EVOLUTIONARY DEAD ENDS: PLANT SPECIES
In an earlier essay, some of the now extinct species of animals were presented. Their characteristics were described as best as the evolutionary biologists can presently determine, and various theories were put forth as to the reasons they became extinct.
It is now time to examine some of the plants on which those biologists have done research.
Once again, we are not talking about old maid Sunday School teachers, even though many of them probably have the petrified flowers of a futile romance pressed between the pages of their hymnals.
There is much debate about this plant fossil, recently discovered in a dig next to some Neanderthal bones. Some feel that its similarities with the modern plant in shape of leaf, and by elements discovered nearby (crude stone pipes, psychedelic cave paintings) indicate that it was abused in much the same manner as modern marijuana. Some say its large leaves would have been too potent, and probably poisonous. Others think it was totally benign, and maybe even enjoyable.
There are three theories regarding why this species no longer exists. The first is that it was banned and then destroyed by the more highly developed and therefore more self-righteous Cro-Magnons, who felt it a bad direction to take off their own God’s chosen highway, and would lead to the use of prehistoric heroin, prehistoric crack, or prehistoric LSD. The second theory is that the Neanderthals didn’t have the intelligence to separate the stems and seeds, and thus smoked away the plant’s future. The third line of thinking postulates that the Neanderthals grew so lethargic under its influence that they didn’t feel like doing the work involved in cannibus cultivation. That same lethargy has also been cited as a reason for the extinction of the Neanderthal himself.
The fossilized remains of this prehistoric fruit were unearthed recently at a dig in the fertile crescent, near the site of some boat wreckage and a strange salt formation in the rough shape of a woman. While at first thought to be an ordinary apple, but of Biblical proportions, Dr. P. C. Mackintosh (in charge of the excavation) soon noticed some peculiarities in both its structure and its surroundings. There appeared to be bites taken out of it, and the rock in which it was embedded showed evidence of a snake-like animal having slithered around in close proximity. The rock had also been carbonized in one spot, as though having been struck by a monstrous lightning bolt. The presence of fossilized fig leaves nearby confirmed to Dr. Mackintosh that this was probably, indeed, the actual apple of knowledge mentioned in the classical texts he had studied as a seminary student.
There is, as yet, no way to really determine the truth of this apple’s purpose and origins. For now, it is considered an extinct species, and the evidence provided by the billions of people who believe in its former existence does, in fact, provide ample proof that this apple— along with all of its knowledge—has been supplanted by something else.
This unique species has been the source of consternation among both evolutionary biologists and theoretical physicists for several decades now. Some say it exists in more than one form, others say it couldn’t. Some say it is not a true fossil and that it is still a live plant. Some claim that only part of it has been found here, because the rest has emerged in a parallel universe.
While it has been suggested that this fossil be placed next to Schrödinger’s cat to see if the cat goes into frenzied quantum gyrations, no biologist or physicist wishes to open the box this feline is contained in. Perhaps they fear that the cat, if alive, would suddenly leap out and play with all their cosmic strings.
For now, various theorists are content with arguing and postulating over the true nature of this catnip. Scientists seem to enjoy that sort of thing.
It is theorized that this variety of simple corn was a highly invasive species, and could mutate and hybridize itself to meet all kinds of environmental conditions. Scientists point out that its fossilized remains have been found in climate zones where it should never have existed. It was probably consumed in great quantities by the dinosaurs, but as those gigantic lizards became more gigantic, and their brains shriveled to walnut size, it is apparent that even the great quantities of this corn plant were insufficient to feed their massive appetites. With those tiny brains, the great brontosaurus and triceratops could not see fit to search out better food sources to fuel their migratory activities, merely munching away at this particular resource. As Dr. Ethan Hall, Professor of Prehistoric Agriculture at Old Plowshare University, points out, “There would have been very few alternative foods anyway, given that this particular corn species had taken over all the available prairies and had even encroached into deserts and rain forests.”
Theories on this plant’s demise are almost as abundant as the corn was itself. One line of thinking says that it was eaten to oblivion, but this seems unlikely, because the dinosaurs themselves probably died out before the corn did. Another theory proposes that this plant vanished due to the same asteroid and subsequent wintry skies that had supposedly killed the dinosaurs. A third theory postulates that vast quantities of methane gas were exhausted by the living animals’ digestive tracts, and with the consequent global warming this caused, the corn plants could not survive. There is yet another train of thought which supposes that the corn depleted its own soil, and even the readily available quantities of dinosaur excrement were not adequate for re-fertilization.
While no one really knows for sure what happened to this species, no one seems to care much. There is little research currently being done concerning the long term consequences of the growth and use of such a plant.