thorny question

Guido Flamini flamini at FARM.UNIPI.IT
Wed May 17 09:25:18 CDT 2000

>1)  Why are thorny plants more abundant in savannas and areas like the
>Black Belt than elsewhere?
>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.

Not only thornes are defense devices!  Plants produce also many chemicals
that are toxic (i.e. alkaloids) or make unpalatable the organs (i.e.
tannins). Sometimes it could be easier eat thorny plants than chemical
defended ones. Eating of the latter requires the existence of detoxifying
mechanisms, that are the results of plants and browsers coevolution.

Guido Flamini

Dr. Guido Flamini
Dipartimento di Chimica Bioorganica e Biofarmacia
Via Bonanno 33, 56126 Pisa, Italia
Tel: +3905044074; Fax: +3905043321
e-mail: flamini at

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