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The Mystery ... of Plants

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The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby Kevin Kane » 14 Feb 2010, 00:05

A recent article in the NY Times points out some of the research done in the field of plant biology:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/science/22angi.html

But many questions remain unanswered. Questions that would have fascinated Charles Darwin but are ignored by modern scientists, because of the "woo-ish" and contraversial aspect of plant behavior.

For instance, Wikipedia's article on "plant intelligence" ... is two sentences long.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_intelligence

Plant neurobiology, a contraversial idea:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_neurobiology


The question is: How do plants know what they know in order to do what they do?

How do they attract useful, symbiotic animal species, or repel unwanted parasitic ones? How did they evolve to know what colors, shapes, patterns, scents and flavors attract or repel specific animals? Without visual organs or a nervous system, plants must know the sizes and shapes of animals in order to accomodate them (hummingbirds for instance). They must know about the digestive systems of large animals, in order to produce seeds that can survive being eaten. They must know what colors animals can see. They must know what shapes may attract or may scare off animals. And they must know what scents and tastes animals find attractive or repulsive. And specifically for specific animals.


What are plants doing with animal neurotransmitters, with compounds like acetylcholine, glutamate, GABA and cannabinoids?
Thinking? Getting stoned?
Thinking about us? Spying on us?
Reading our minds? Controlling us?


What have you got to say for yourself?

Image

Shy, huh?





From David Attenborough - The Private Life of Plants:

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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby ciscop » 14 Feb 2010, 01:26

my answer would be... GOD...



not.. to be honest
that´s a really interesting topic
i think i just read once in scientific america or one of those brainiac magazines
i know nothing about it
i will have to reserch on it
thanks for bring it up that topic
i love to see topics that are interesting likes this and that i know nothing about it.. i love learning
:-)
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Feb 2010, 07:11

Some things are just programmed into the DNA. The rest is nothing more than successful evolution. The intelligence is on behalf of the insect or animal. Not the plant.

If you think about it, animals and bugs are smarter than us when it comes to plants. Humans can't automatically tell if a plant is poisonous. We need to be taught that.
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby Kevin Kane » 14 Feb 2010, 13:37

NinjaPuppy wrote:Some things are just programmed into the DNA. The rest is nothing more than successful evolution. The intelligence is on behalf of the insect or animal. Not the plant.


I disagree. Plants must have a feedback mechanism that is not well understood. Sensing, memory or chemical computing/thinking. Trial and Error evolution isn't enough to explain how they know what is happening, nor does it make sense because of effecient plant resource use. Plants adapt quickly in evolutionary terms, they make decisions on a daily/minute/second basis, and they don't guess or rely on chance, and the evidence indicates this.

The use of volitiles for communicating with other plants, or for self-defense, is a costly decision because plants rely on volitiles to live. The decision to use them, and how much, is an important decision for plants.
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby Kevin Kane » 14 Feb 2010, 18:49

If plants were relying solely on trial and error learning, or programmed behaviors, regardless of the complexity of the programming (DNA), they'd all be dead. Evidence suggests that in order to survive and thrive, plants must make informed choices and investments at a dynamic, interactive level.

Networking and communication.
Information gathering and processing.
Memory and learning.
Decision making.
Resource investment.
Problem solving.


Thinking.



.. in 3 dimensions:


http://www.biology-online.org/articles/ ... plant.html


3) The capacity to navigate a maze.

One of the hallmarks of intelligent behaviour in the laboratory is the capacity of animals to run successfully through mazes and to receive an eventual reward. But the capacity of plants to grow through an environmental maze is not commonly assumed to represent intelligent behaviour and attracts little attention. Individual branches growing through gaps towards sources of light are an obvious example (Trewavas, 1986b). Numerous studies on rhizomes suggest that higher plants must be able to construct a three-dimensional perspective of their local space and optimize their growth patterns to exploit resources, thus receiving rewards for successful behaviour. To any wild plant the environment represents a continual maze that must be successfully navigated.

Dia-gravitropic rhizomes can certainly sense vertical environmental vectors, either from being buried or from receipt of light near the surface, with vertical growth then being adjusted (Bennet-Clark and Ball, 1951; Maun and Lapierre, 1984). Consistent control of rhizome horizontal direction has been observed, particularly in heterogeneous soil environments, which are extremely common (Farley and Fitter, 1999). Rich soil patches are exploited by increased branching and growth; poor ones are either directly avoided or the rhizome thins to conserve resource use and growth is accelerated to speed the detection of new richer patches (Salzmann, 1985; MacDonald and Lieffers, 1993; Aphalo and Ballare, 1995; Evans and Cain, 1995; Kleijn and Van Groenendael, 1999; Wijesinghe and Hutchings, 1999). Evans and Cain (1995) report that Hydrocotyle rhizomes veer away from patches of grass and thus from competition.

Roots are able to sense humidity gradients and thus also construct a three-dimensional environmental perspective (Takahashi and Scott, 1993). Increased root branching in soil patches rich in nitrate or phosphate indicate a similar ability in environmental perception (Drew et al., 1973). Roots will also take avoidance action when near others (Aphalo and Ballare, 1995). These data, and others, have led to the concept that plants actively forage resources from their environment (Hutchings and deKroon, 1994) using assessment mechanisms similar to those of animals.

Both plants and animals use exploratory behaviour to enhance the chances of survival by optimizing the gathering of food resources, thus maximizing both the potentials for reproduction and the selfish passage of genes into the next generation.
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Feb 2010, 21:45

I still can't buy into the idea that plants have intelligence. Perhaps it's because for me, it is easier to believe that over the millions of years they have existed (not necessarily survived) due to adaptation to their specific environment. Man (botanists) have been importing and hybridizing plant species for hundreds of years. Birds and animals carrying plants seeds in their feathers, fur and feces, spreading the seeds around.

If man had not moved or imported native species of plants from one continent to another for cultivation, who knows if specific species would still be around today due to blight or disease. Of course if man didn't move around the globe at all, certain blight and disease would never reach areas to destroy native plants.

Look at how a forest replenishes. The mature trees take up the prime real estate and eventually shade out the ground for new seedlings. Their leaves or needles cover the ground making it impossible for grasses or weeds to now grow. Eventually a dry season comes and a lightning strike ignites the dry underbrush or debris and a forest fire takes out thousands of acres, burning everything to the ground. The ash from the fire creates a natural fertilizer as does the left over rotting tree trunks. Seeds can remain viable for who knows how long. Once the right conditions occur those seeds sprout, the trees on the fringes of the fire regenerate from the roots up and an entire new life cycle for that forest begins. Birds and animals carry new seeds into the area as well that take hold and flourish.

There is a specific species of pine tree that can't reproduce without a major fire as their cones won't open to shed the seeds without extreme high temperatures. Is it the plant, natural selection or intelligent design?
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby Kevin Kane » 15 Feb 2010, 00:24

I could see how this could be done with trial and error experimentation, with trees that either functionally survived a fire, or nearbye unaffected trees reacting to the stress of fire by hardening their seed cones. With each generation, they'd become harder and tested by fire. The seeds that were hard enough would survive.

But in many cases, trial and error is just a starting point, and other skills are employed into forming a survival tactic. Skills that we're not even sure of what they are doing. Mainly because science made a false assumption that plants are just food and decoration and don't make good television. Human needs often blind science to what is really happening.
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby NinjaPuppy » 15 Feb 2010, 04:10

Kevin Kane wrote:Mainly because science made a false assumption that plants are just food and decoration and don't make good television. Human needs often blind science to what is really happening.

Science has not made any assumptions, especially that plants are just food and decoration. Science has proven that plants clean the air, prevent erosion, cool the atmophere around us, shade the earth for other species to grow, provide nesting and homes to birds/insects/mammals and the list goes on and on.
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby Kevin Kane » 15 Feb 2010, 04:50

NinjaPuppy wrote:Science has not made any assumptions, especially that plants are just food and decoration. Science has proven that plants clean the air, prevent erosion, cool the atmophere around us, shade the earth for other species to grow, provide nesting and homes to birds/insects/mammals and the list goes on and on.


Just proves what I said. These are all human benefits and needs, either directly or indirectly. Science's way of explaining plant usefulness .. to humans.
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby ProfWag » 15 Feb 2010, 05:37

Interesting stuff, but unfortunately, not a subject that I personally care to spend a lot of time on.
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Re: The Mystery ... of Plants

Postby Kevin Kane » 22 Feb 2010, 02:45

Plant neurobiologist in the news discussing Primary Perception

pt1
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/29564/
pt2
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/30120/

"Most of science confirms the existence of a new phenomenon by trying to repeatedly elicit it under the same conditions many times. But things relating to consciousness and mental phenomena may not fit that approach: for example, just because someone doesn’t laugh at a joke the fourth time they’ve heard it doesn’t mean the joke isn’t funny. It is just that the phenomenon does not lend itself to that particular kind of repeatability."
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