Two new groundbreaking studies reveal unexpected insights into the evolution of plants and snakes.  Let’s start with the plants’ study first.

Crocus Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

The results of research conducted by a Stanford-led team suggest that plants did not evolve gradually over millions of years. (Many people, including me, assume that plants, animals, and even human beings change genetically in tiny increments over time.) Rather, major changes occurred millions of years apart in two condensed bursts of diversification.  The first burst resulted in the creation of seeds for reproduction.  The second burst occurred 250 million years later with the variation of flowers, including their parts, shapes, fragrances, and other features.  Note that the drivers of change are again the plant reproduction processes. 

One might think that the flowering parts evolved alongside pollinator insects.  However, the insects existed almost 200 million years before the flowers’ complexity emerged.  So, insects weren’t the catalysts.  The actual stimulus is still to be determined.

To learn more about the findings, check out this link:  https://earth.stanford.edu/news/plants-evolved-complexity-two-bursts-250-million-year-hiatus#gs.bzhs5f

 

Now, let’s consider the asteroid strike that doomed the dinosaurs. Evidence suggests that many creatures such as snakes were also negatively affected, at least initially. 

The research team involved in this study views this impact as a form of “creative destruction.”  In other words, the destruction eliminated many types of competitive snakes and dinosaurs.  Subsequently, the surviving snake population diversified into the niches formerly filled by the now-deceased species.  

Snake Image by sipa from Pixabay

The team suggests that these remaining snakes specialized and spread by experimenting with “new lifestyles and habitats.”  Many were successful. This one event triggered the evolutionary variety we find in snake species. Now, there are more than 400 types of snakes and they can be found in habitats ranging from deserts to saltwater marshes.

The team also suggests that the snake’s evolutionary diversification may be a model for what can happen in other environmental catastrophes.  Some species definitely emerge stronger.  

You can read more about this here at:  https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/modern-snakes-evolved-from-a-few-survivors-of-dino-killing-asteroid/

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