Armstrong, Joseph E. .
Destructive leaf development, a botanical panda’s thumb.
STEPHEN J. Gould’s famous reference to the panda’s thumb has long provided an example clarifying one of the most misunderstood aspects of evolutionary change. The fundamental problem is simple: natural selection produces adaptations with the appearance of design, which can and has been misinterpreted. Clumsy, awkward, and counter productive solutions to life’s myriad problems demonstrate clearly the difference between the appearance of design and intelligent design. In thinking about this problem, I found myself lacking botanical examples, but observations made in our tropical plant collection provided an example. Destructive leaf development occurs in a number of plants. Here I show how during late stages of leaf development in Dillenia alata a green functional portion of the winged petiole is subsequently destroyed during reorientation of the petiole and blade, a truly inelegant solution. Piper nigrum provides a second, if not quite so dramatic, example.
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1 - Illinois State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Campus Box 4120, Normal, Illinois, 61790-4120, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: 207-209/Kandall Hall
Date: Monday, July 31st, 2006
Time: 11:00 AM