Another Kind Of Bird Of Paradise
“Everything you need to know is contained within a flower.” Buddha.
It is often very frustrating for scientists to not be able to solve mysteries. Einstein originally found the idea of the universe with a beginning quite irritating. Carl Sagan exhibited anger by not being able to explain the origin of life. And Darwin exhibited anger and frustration from not being able to explain the emergence of the human brain or the emergence, and rapid spreading, of the flowering plants. I suspect that he did not fully understand that the two were inextricably related. Poets, sages, philosophers and theologians often operate beyond the confines of scientific reasoning and so it is intriguing that, 2600 years ago, Buddha could have appreciated the correlation of the human brain and flowers, perhaps more completely than Darwin.
Excerpt: The Immense Journey, Loren Eiseley.
“Somewhere, just a short time before the close of the Age of Reptiles (100 million years ago) there occurred a soundless, violent explosion. It lasted millions of years, but it was an explosion, nevertheless. It marked the emergence of the angiosperms—the flowering plants. Even the great evolutionist, Charles Darwin, called them “an abominable mystery,” because they appeared so suddenly and spread so fast.”
In describing the emergence and spreading of the angiosperms, Eiseley wrote one of his most beautiful soliloquies:
“A plant, a fixed, rooted thing, immobilized in a single spot, had devised a way of propelling its offspring across open space. Immediately there passed before my eyes the million airy troopers of the milkweed pod and the clutching hooks of the sandburs. Seeds on the coyote’s tail, seeds on the hunter’s coat, thistledown mounting on the wind—all were somehow triumphing over life’s limitations. Yet the ability to do this had not been with them in the beginning. It was the product of endless effort and experiment.”
He ends his chapter with a stunning reminder of the miracle of our existence.
“Without the gift of flowers and the infinite diversity of their fruits, man and bird, if they had continued to exist at all, would be today unrecognizable. Archaeopteryx, the lizard-bird, might still be snapping at beetles on a sequoia limb; man might be still be a nocturnal insectivore gnawing a roach in the night. The weight of the petal has changed the face of the world and made it ours.”