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Plants’ common ancestor was complex, not simple life form, researchers say

proposed common ancestor of plants and algae/Preston Huey, Science

From “Meet Plants’ and Algae’s Common Ancestor: Primitive Organisms Not Always So Simple, Researcher Says” (ScienceDaily, Feb. 17, 2012), we learn – regarding a thesis about a common ancestor of plants and algae,

Price and his colleagues’ studied the genome of an obscure alga called Cyanophora. Their results strongly suggest that the first alga arose about a billion to a billion and a half years ago. This alga became the ancestor to the group of algae containing Cyanophora, plus the group of algae that includes the red seaweeds, plus the group that includes the green algae and the land plants. Together, these organisms form the super group called Plantae.

Based on this research, Spiegel has put forth a hypothetical snapshot of what the common ancestor of Plantae, the “first alga,” might have looked like.

“The common ancestor of Plantae was an organism with very complex cells and a complex life cycle,” Spiegel said. While some members of the super group Plantae may have less complex cells and life cycles, this does not mean they pre-date the common ancestor. “They’re simpler because they lost parts, not because they originated that way.”

Modern findings look more and more like “creationism” all the time. That is, in one form of creationist thinking, the ancestor is a sort of master copy – more fully and perfectly endowed than the descendants, who diverge later due to losses and imperfections.

Of course, that means the ancestor is carrying a wallop of information, not acquired by presently known natural means. Well, it’s a model, to be evaluated alongside others. One reason many of us have worked hard to sideline career Darwin bores and lobbyists is that it is difficult to hold a reasonable discussion of these possibilities – the prioritizes the evidence – if they are in any way involved.

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