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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wiki of the day, November 13,2012: Angraecum sesquipedale

The article:  Angraecum sesquipedale

INTERESTING FACT:  Charles Darwin surmised that this flower was pollinated by a then undiscovered moth.... his prediction went unverified until 21 years after his death.

What makes this interesting to bring up is the fact that this orchid when studied by Charles Darwin led him to the above "guess" (basically that its nectar was so hard to get to that there had to be a specially evolved species that could do it).

You see the plant has long "spurs" (many inches 10+) where the nectar is stored.  Darwin was able to accurately surmise that there must be a creature that had evolved with the plant such that it could access this nectar (it was unknown at the time).  There is more on the story in the article.  I also learned today that they have quite a smell.

This is really part of a much bigger topic of natural selection and evolution- but this stands out because it shows how evolution can yield predictions- it is an angle that I don't think one really thinks about when considering the concept of evolution.

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