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No. 54: Nov-Dec 1987

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Honest, this is the last "plant" item!

In the September issue of Scientific American, S.C.H. Barrett presents an excellent review of mimicry in the plant world. All sorts of wondrous mimicry are described, involving form, color, odor, texture and even synchrony of life cycles. Plants mimic insects, stones, other plants, and substrates (backgrounds). Repeatedly, Barrett asserts that all of these remarkable developments are the consequence of small, randome mutations guided by the forces of natural selection. To Barrett, plant mimicry is proof positive that evolution is true. It should not surprise the readers of Science Frontiers that this very same article is a goldmine of biological anomalies, that is, data that seem to challenge ruling paradigms.

(Barrett, Spencer C.H.; "Mimicry in Plants," Scientific American, 257:76, September 1987.)

Comment. Evolution, like beauty, must be in the eye of the beholder! At this point, we could easily launch into a lengthy harangue about why it seems highly improbable that a plant, through chance mutations, could hit upon just the right combination of form, color, odor, and flowering time to dupe an insect pollinator -- even with the aid of natural selection and a billion years. The point we wish to stress here is that the author of this paper sees the same facts and comes to diametrically opposite conclusions!

Reference. Our handbook Incredible Life devotes and entire chapter to the anomalies of the plant kingdom. For further information, visit: here.

Orchid flower mimicks female bee This Orchid flower mimicks a female bee, thus encouraging pollination by male bees.

From Science Frontiers #54, NOV-DEC 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987