Thorny questions

Pierre Deleporte Pierre.Deleporte at UNIV-RENNES1.FR
Mon May 15 18:31:34 CDT 2000

At 10:04 15/05/00 -0600, Richard L. Brown wrote:

>2)  If thorns were an adaptation against Pleistocene and earlier browsers,
>what kept these browsers from going into habitats where plants were less
>thorny?  Why wouldn't other plants outside savannas develop thorniness as a
>defense against these browsers.

Or why not: why would'nt all non-thorny plants have disappeared if thorns
were such a crucial adaptation against browsing?... And do we know for sure
who browsed who after all?... And finally was browsing any problem at all
for plants in this ecosystem?... Answering such questions in present days
ecosystems is another approach, much more directly accessible to scientific
investigations, but clear answers would not even be very easy.
The recent book "In search of deep time" by Henry Gee is refreshing as for
warning -once more- against naive adaptationism in "explaining" the deep
past history of evolution. Searching for explanations is legitimate, but
saying "I really don't know" is no shame indeed.


Pierre Deleporte
CNRS UMR 6552 - Station Biologique de Paimpont
F-35380 Paimpont   FRANCE
Téléphone : 02 99 61 81 66
Télécopie : 02 99 61 81 88

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