Jim Cobabe wrote:

> http://www.nature.com/nsu/021111/021111-7.html
> Plant biologists discuss ways that organisms in the plant world appear
> to "mimic" the forms of insect life as a beneficial adaptation.
> These features are common enough in the plant world to merit a lot of
> consideration from the evolutionist's philosophy.  In order to support a
> completely naturalistic theory that accounts for species diversity, the
> mechanism by which such features arise in an organism must necessarily
> be a fortuitous accident.

Define "fortuitous." In evolution it's known as "survival of the fittest." This
article does not report anything that's new as far as *evolution* is concerned. If
you'd like to discuss it further, I suggest going to Eyring-L.

> As I understand the thinking, random chance accounts for changes in the
> genetic potential of plant organisms, which may result in expression of
> traits, which then could possibly happen to prove advantageous to the
> survivability of that organism.  Since there is at least immediately a
> particular advantage for this adapted plant, it competes more
> effectively in it's own environmental niche, and reproduces more
> abundantly than relatively less fit competitors.  This shift in the
> ecological balance results in perpetuating the beneficial trait.
> It is problematic, however, to refer to such a tenuous probability when
> looking at specific examples of adaptation that are so marvellously
> elegant and intricate, even so ingeneously implemented as to effectively
> merit the admiration of human biologists.

Why? Admiration is in the eye of the beholder.

> In the article cited, the scientists marvel about various forms of
> "mimicry" as though these clever plants might blush from praise.  Yet
> obviously, these plants came to adopt such incredible forms merely by
> chance.  No intelligent agent is needed to account for plants that so
> effectively mimic insects.

"Mimicry" is a well-established and well-defined term in biology. This is hardly
the first such example. Think of a walking stick insect, for example.

> These scientists unwittingly introduce anthropocentric attributions in
> their descriptions of plants that mimic insects.  To mimic or imitate
> necessarily seems to imply intelligent direction.  Plants have no innate
> intelligence that science can detect, nor does there seem to be any
> tenet of evolutionary theory that would explain what force would direct
> plants to develop such artfully explicit renderings of insects or
> animals.

The anthropocentricity is in your reading of the description. Note, too, that what
you are quoting is a news item, not the actual article, which appears in the
September 2002 of The Biological Journal of the Linnaen Society.

> ---
> Mij Ebaboc

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick
himself up and continue on” – Winston Churchill

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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