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Carnivorous plants: After eating Darwin, they couldn’t resist further culinary adventures

Sometimes found in the wilds of your florist's checkout counter, in plastic boxes: Venus fly trap, showing trap trigger hairs/Noah Elhardt

Remember the carnivorous plants that ate Darwin?

Alfred Wallace warned Darwin about the problems posed by Utricularia, saying “I feel sure they will be seized on as inexplicable by Natural Selection” and implored him to address these difficulties in a future edition of his book “On the Origin of Species.”

Darwin never did.
UD News featured the pitcher plant, which gobbles insects instead of the reverse. Canadian botanist Margaret Helder promptly weighed in with

… some plants … attract, catch and eat aquatic insects, water fleas and young tadpoles, fish fry, tiny worms and very young insect larvae including mosquito wrigglers.

Even vertebrates aren’t safe from the plants’ high-intel traps.

German geneticist W.-E. Loennig, who is writing a book on the subject, points out that

many species of Utricularia are not adapted to extremely nitrogen-deficient environments (which is true in fact, for most of the European species).

So they eat bugs because they like them, not because they have to. (?) He has documented the point extensively.

Wallace was right.

Here’s an example of one of his frustrating (tell us about it) colloquies with Darwinists:

Barry A. Rice [abbreviated BAR]: “Unfortunately there are very few fossils of carnivorous plants, so so we can only guess how they evolved, and our guesses would probably be wrong. But it is not too hard to develop plausible pathways that evolution could have followed to produce these extraordinary plants.”

Comment by W-EL: Concernig the fossil record, see please, pp. 67-71 above: it speaks the language of abrupt appearances of new forms and their constancy in space and time. As BAR himself admitted (see also p. 63 above, footnote 92), the epistemological problem with evolution is that it is almost never “too hard to develop plausible pathways that evolution could have followed…” but “…we just don’t know if such theories are right.” Oder Prof. V.: ‘Plausible Geschichten sind bestenfalls Hypothesen, die testbar sein sollten’.

BAR continues: “For example, a great number of plants have hairy surfaces. Many, such as tomatoes and petunias, are glandular and sticky.”

W-EL: See, please pp. 167/168 above for the specified genetical complexities and thus evolutionary problems involved in the origin of apparently simple and glandular trichomes alone. But, of course, these could be used as starting points.

BAR continues: “It is but a small step to the commensal relationships with insects exhibited by Byblis and Drosera.”

W-EL: Is this really “but a small step”? So what exactly are the molecular and other steps necessary to produce commensal relationships with insects? (See some of the problems mentioned on p. 133 above, footnote 235.)

BAR continues: “The development of enzyme production would be a further step toward autonomous carnivory.”

W-EL: Necessary is the devolopment of the correct acids and enzymes needed in proper amounts at the right place at the right time usually secreted by digestive glands – enormous problems for evolution by accidental mutations and selection.

BAR: “Differential cell growth, which enables plants to lean toward light, could also in time transform passive flypaper plants into active flypapers.”

W-EL: Well, how to test this hypothesis for a concrete species? How many molecular steps are really necessary to transform passive flypaper plants into active ones?

BAR: “Did Drosera evolve in this way? Perhaps, perhaps not.”

W-EL: There are many scientific reasons to think that the postulated processes to generate carnivorous plants by random micromutations, recombination and selection is very improbable – see the arguments given in my paper here.

BAR: “But the key point is that the pathway is completely plausible.”

W-EL: Well, to repeat, “plausible stories need not be true” (Gould).

BAR: “Evolution is a vehicle for change: the biological diversity of the entire planet is its fuel, and mighty aeons mark its journey.”

W-EL: The real evolutionary problems seem to be hidden behind a screen of undefined parameters. “The length of time is relevant only when the probabilistic structure of events and changes occurring in this time are also known” (M. Eden). Can really anything – any improbable event – happen on this background? And anyway, then, why are there only so relatively few carnivorous plants (see quotations above, pp. 168, 217) on this entire planet including its mighty aeons of time and hundreds of millions of generations with altogether trillions of individuals? For more information about probabilities and the parameters which have to be considered for these questions, see the links to 8 papers given on p. 25 of http://www.weloennig.de/GiraffaSecondPartEnglish.pdf.)

We await the English translation of all Dr. Lonnig’s books, and will advise.

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11 Responses to Carnivorous plants: After eating Darwin, they couldn’t resist further culinary adventures

  1. Darwinists seem to assume that conjecturing a vaguely-defined series of events is as good as empirical evidence.

    This is like a prosecutor in a criminal trial being able to obtain a conviction by describing how the defendant could have committed the crime, and submitting in evidence things discovered in the investigation of completely different crimes.

  2. “Differential cell growth, which enables plants to lean toward light, could also in time transform passive flypaper plants into active flypapers.”

    Yes, the transformation is quite plausible if the cells grow differently. Problem solved.
    I wonder what else differential cell growth can transform plants into.

  3. “So they eat bugs because they like them, not because they have to. (?) He has documented the point extensively.”

    What?? Carnivorous plants eat bugs “because they like them, not because they have to”? Is that your and Loennig’s “scientific” explanation?

    Amongst anyone who knows anything about this topic, it is well-known that the general pattern is that carnivorous plants live in nutrient-poor environments, and use the insect to supplement their nutrient diet. Sometimes the limiting nutrient might not be nitrogren, it might be phosphorous or something else. Aquatic Utricularia typically live in oligotrophic freshwater environments, but they might even be getting a carbon advantage in addition to nutrients. Doesn’t matter to the basic story. Sometimes the carnivorous plants can grow apparently fine without eating any insects, but — and Darwin was the first to do experiments to support this, IIRC — plants that get insects produce more seeds (which require big nutrient investments), which is a rather obvious reproductive advantage. So this doesn’t change the basic story either. Another complexity is that other, non-carnivorous plants can grow in carnivorous plant habitat — but it looks like the carnivorous plants have a growth advantage after the environment is disturbed, e.g. by fire, i.e. CPs are early successional plants, without regular disturbance they eventually get shaded out by slower-growing competitors. Still doesn’t change the basic story.

    Random uninformed objections made piecemeal to a large body of scientific work in which many of the questions you are asking have been solved = yet another reason why scientists detest creationism/ID, and rightly so. Until creationism/ID stops producing mostly ignorant screeds and starts producing mostly well-researched, well-informed articles in scientific journals, it hasn’t got a chance.

  4. Nick,

    Your position cannot explain plants, nevermind carnivorous plants. Your whole position is an ignorant screed. Buy a vowel…

  5. Nick, I’m calling you out for being no good lying, stinkin, varmint:

    Dog vs. Cat – The Western – Clint Eastwood style
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNfzrktWQYQ

    ===========

    Carnivorous plants eat Darwinists
    Excerpt: In every family of the plant and animal kingdoms there are species whose sudden appearances and whose irreducibly complex features pose problems for neo-Darwinism. But certain carnivorous plants pose these problems in such a spectacular way that they are a focal point of the Darwinism debate, ever since Alfred Wallace warned Darwin about the problems posed by Utricularia, saying “I feel sure they will be seized on as inexplicable by Natural Selection” and implored him to address these difficulties in a future edition of his book “On the Origin of Species.”

    Darwin never did, but some more recent authors have proposed various contradictory gradualistic and saltationist explanations for this spectacular example of irreducible complexity.

    W.-E. Loennig answers these authors with great luxury of detail, and shows that “after more than 135 years of further research, Darwinism today can no more satisfactorily answer these questions than Darwin could. And the difficulties have increased.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....arwinists/

    ====================

    About the Author: For the last 28 years Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig has been working on mutation genetics at the University of Bonn and the Max-Planck-Institute für Züchtungsforschung in Cologne (Bonn 7 years, Cologne 21 years) (now retired).

    Some Further Research On Dollo’s Law – Wolf-Ekkehard Lonnig – November 2010
    http://www.globalsciencebooks......)1-21o.pdf

    Further work by Loennig

    The Evolution of the Long-Necked Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis L.) – What do we really know? – Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig
    http://www.weloennig.de/Giraff.....nglish.pdf

  6. Nick,

    Your “large body of scientific work” explains nearly everything except for series of specific variations and selective pressures that can produce the changes from a non-carnivorous to a carnivorous plant. Is it elusive? Who knows? It’s the piece that holds up the house of cards and no one is even looking for it because they assume it must be there.

    That’s why scientists detest pompous evolutionist assertions that are supported by nothing than more pompous evolutionist assertions. (If you can arrogantly lump together all scientists, regardless of their individual opinions, and ascribe your feelings to them, then so can I.)

    And those scientific journals are where such fantastic, imagined, and subjectively plausible drivel gets spouted. They’re not in a position to lend credibility to anything or anyone.

  7. I cite data and facts, you guys cite…nothing… in response. Get specific. Is it implausible that there is selective pressure to acquire nutrients in nutrient-poor environments? Is it implausible that plant leaves can vary in their stickiness? Because that’s about all you need in terms of selective pressures and variational ability in order to explain the origin of plant carnivory. Several carnivorous plants don’t even secrete digestive enzymes, they can rely on natural bacterial decay to break down the insects, and absorb the nutrients through leaves or roots.

    But, way to prove to everyone your complete anti-intellectualism, with that blanket dismissal of scientific journals. Another reason real scientists will never take you guys seriously.

  8. All you need to explain plant carnivory is a few plausibilities? Forgive me for not being impressed or intimidated by your idea of ‘real science.’ (Or don’t.)

    But, way to prove to everyone your complete anti-intellectualism, with that blanket dismissal of scientific journals.

    Way to prove to everyone your gullibility and sheepish group-think mentality with that blanket endorsement of scientific journals. On the one hand you ridicule something, and on the other you say you’ll take it seriously if it appears in a journal. That’s what I call integrity. Another reason real scientists will never take you guys seriously. (See 3.2.)

  9. Nick,

    Yes variation exists, but variation doesn’t explain plants in the first place. And yes, perhaps plants can develop a means to get their leaves more sticky. Does that mean it is blind, undirected chemical processes doing it? Or could it be due to built-in responses to environmental cues or even a targeted search?

  10. Nick states:

    ‘I cite data and facts’

    Nick since when does imagination count as ‘data and facts’ in science??? In any other field of science, and especially in engineering, you would be laughed out of your position with such unsubstantiated conjecture masquerading as solid proof!!! But alas, in Darwinian world of science such unsubstantiated conjecture born out of pure imagination is rewarded with life-long tenure!!! How about you guys actually evolving a new gene or protein by Darwinian means??? Would that be too much to ask???

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.(that is a net ‘fitness gain’ within a ‘stressed’ environment i.e. remove the stress from the environment and the parent strain is always more ‘fit’)
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Michael Behe talks about the preceding paper on this podcast:

    Michael Behe: Challenging Darwin, One Peer-Reviewed Paper at a Time – December 2010
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....3_46-08_00

  11. NickMatzke_UD

    I cite data and facts, you guys cite…nothing… in response. Get specific. Is it implausible that there is selective pressure to acquire nutrients in nutrient-poor environments? Is it implausible that plant leaves can vary in their stickiness? Because that’s about all you need in terms of selective pressures and variational ability in order to explain the origin of plant carnivory.

    I hope folks trying to save trees in the forest don’t run out of food, having their arms wrapped around the trees and sweating may eventually cause their skin to dissolve and absorb the tree bark as nutrients. Is it implausible that there is selective pressure to acquire nutrients in nutrient-poor environments? Is it implausible that human arms can vary in their sweatiness? And you talk about being taken seriously?

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