At ScienceDaily (March 30, 2011), we learn that “Like Products, Plants Wait for Optimal Configuration Before Market Success”:
Just as a company creates new, better versions of a product to increase market share and pad its bottom line, an international team of researchers led by Brown University has found that plants tinker with their design and performance before flooding the environment with new, improved versions of themselves.
The issue: When does a grouping of plants with the same ancestor, called a clade, begin to spin off new species? Biologists have long assumed that rapid speciation occurred when a clade first developed a new physical trait or mechanism and had begun its own genetic branch. But the team, led by Brown postdoctoral research associate Stephen Smith, discovered that major lineages of flowering plants did not begin the rapid spawning of new species until they had reached a point of development at which speciation success and rate would be maximized. The results are published in the American Journal of Botany.
“Evolution is not what we previously thought,” said Smith, who works in the laboratory of Brown biologist Casey Dunn. “It’s not as if you get a flower, and speciation (rapidly) occurs. There is a lag. Something else is happening. There is a phase of product development, so to speak.”
It is going to be hard to spin this one as Darwinian evolution because evolution, on that view, is not supposed to have a purpose or strategy.
Either humans are simply big-brained apes whose misfiring neurons explain strategy and purpose or there is a design in life, an intelligence in the universe.