We could not exist without flowering plants, but to this date researchers cannot explain where they came from. Why did Darwin describe the origin of flowering plants as an “abominable mystery”?
Charles Darwin was convinced that the evolution of complexity must proceed by tiny steps. Only tiny steps could be accumulated by natural selection. The process had to go slowly for it to work. Billions of years were needed. But Darwin was aware that this theory had a problem: flowers.
Flowering plants appear so suddenly in the fossil record, in such diversity, that their origin seems to be at odds with Darwin’s theory. When writing a letter to his friend Joseph Hooker in 1879, Darwin famously described this problem as an “abominable mystery”. To this date, evolutionary biologists still have not been able to solve this mystery.
Richard Buggs, Professor of Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary University of London, will join us at The Garden to reveal how the problem changed over time and why we still haven’t managed to solve it.
Darwin wasn’t the only one to notice. Sherlock Holmes’s creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, put these words in his best-known character’s mouth:
What a lovely thing a rose is!
He walked past the couch to the open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss-rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show any keen interest in natural objects.
‘There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,” said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” – The Naval Treaty
There are number of YouTube vids advising that the mystery has been or soon will be solved. Enjoy. Believe. Whatever.
You may also wish to read: Dawkins’s Thesis That The Bacterial Flagellum Evolved From The Injectisome Is No Longer Tenable, Prof Says. “According to a Queen Mary U evolutionary genomics prof writing at Nature Ecology & Evolution, Richard Dawkins’s claim that the bacterial flagellum evolved from the injectisome “is no longer sustainable.”