Field of Science

Darwin Bicentennial Special Edition

In honor of the bicentennial of Darwin's Origin of Species the Botanical Society of America is publishing a special issue of the American Journal of Botany, and you can get a FREE historial article entitled "The meaning of Darwin's "abominable mystery". Everyone usually interprets this to mean the evolutionay ancestry of flowering plants was a mystery with respect to their ancestry, and other than it being clear flowering plants had a common ancestry with gymnosperms, it must be admitted that this remains an area of active hypothesis formation. But this was not Darwin's concern.

Ned Friedman clarifies that Darwin was referring to the sudden appearance of considerable flowering plant diversity in the fossil record. Darwin would have been seen this as less of a problem if the fossil record were as well known 150 years ago as it is today, but that's why we do research, to learn things. The clarification is based in part upon Darwin's own explanation of the problem in a letter Joseph Hooker written in 1879 (facsimile included).

So treat yourself to a scientific present! And maybe commit yourself to a new year's resolution to reduce your plant blindness, a common scientific affliction.

No comments: