The Flower , the Dinosaur and Puff .
9 Dec 2008
The development of flowers (angiosperms) reduced the amount of free energy to large dinosaurs by a factor of 1 000 to 10 000 . This reduced the number of large dinosaurs planetwide accordingly . This rendered them very vulnerable to a sudden shock like the Chixilub meteor impact .
The crucial factor :
Gymnosperms ( conifers , cycads , gingoes , bennetittales) has the characteristic that every seed (whether fertilized or not) has to have a food supply for the embryo . Fertilization is by wind-blown spores .
The plant has to produce a food supply for all seeds , fertilized or not .
Angiosperms (flowering plants) has a double fertilization process : as the ovum is fertilized , a neighbouring cell is also fertilized to produce a food supply for the embryo .
Thus , the plant only has to produce a food supply for already fertilized seeds .
The Trick :
Look at it from a macro-viewpoint . To populate the available planetary surface , a certain number (say N) of fertilized seeds are needed . But the Gymnosperm fertilization by wind is about 1 000 to 10 000 times less efficient than angiosperms , especially after angiosperms used the savings to pay insects (bees , etc) to do targeted fertilization .
The effect of this was that dinosaurs ( who evolved in the energy-rich environment of gymnosperm seeds) faced a decreasing amount of available energy as flowers took over .
This was hard on the large dinosaurs , who spent a 100 million years refining tools for a gymnosperm ecology . The reduction in numbers of large dinosaurs before the KT boundary is well-documented . Their ecosystem just did not have enough free energy to support large numbers of big herbivores and their predators . The mechanics are well-known .
The large dinosaurs were caught in the evolutionary trap , but smaller ones did survive , adapt and are still with us ( Fried chicken , anybody ?)
The state of play 65 million years ago is the same as today :
This already tells you that a very stable attractor basin has been reached .
Angiosperms : 90% of plant species
Insect pollinated Angiosperms : 75% of this 90% .
Note that 0.9*0.75 = 0.675 .
See reserve arguments in http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Infinite Probes" et al .
One can use the Gaia argument here without reservation , since the Infinite Probe argument does not involve any consciousness .
What does this mean ?
Plant species NOT involving (both Angiosperms and insects) form the reserve of Gaia. (Remember , the system has been through at least 65 million years of catastrophes , including Chixilub .)
Plants are the basis of all life on the planetary surface .
Human intervention only changed the forms of angiosperms , but not the percentages .
Whether the Amazon is populated by forests or grasses is immaterial to Gaia . But monkeying around with the reserve (ie non-angiosperms (ie conifers and tundra) or insect-independent angiosperms) will have unexpected and (from the human viewpoint) dire consequences .
Global warming will not change the percentages either . Deserts grow as tundras shrink .
If the percentage of angiosperms increase above 90% , the pollinating insect population percentage can be expected to shrink to keep the product at about 67% .
This is already noticeable in the fall in bee numbers .
Frogs (insect eaters) are having a hard time as well .
I have a nasty suspicion about phages and fungi .
This is a system at least 65 million years old .
It has to be approached from a planetary basis .
The planet is awash with spores from the various plant forms . Quorum mechanisms in phages , bacteria , some viruses , fungi and other lifeforms sit and watch . A disturbance in the existing equilibrium activates dormant genes (hence the large percentage of "junk" DNA in primitive organisms . ) Enough are uncorrupted to activate systems to shift the equilibrium back to the basin center .
A simple putative example :
Fungi spores are produced by Gaia's reserve .
Spores from fungi keep certain phage-genes from being expressed . If they fall below quorum , the phages activate . They attack bacteria . This in turn activates genes in bacteria in self-defense , but to fund this they plunder their hosts for resources : this is a disease . Viruses switch on . And off we go !
Some auto-immune diseases fall into this classification . Insects are particularly vulnerable .
I use this example because of Gaia's reserves , fungi has been most affected by human activity . Sewerage works are the main culprit . When have you last seen a mushroom growing wild ? Run the numbers. Human excrement now comprises a significant percentage of biomass , and none of it is available to fungi .
Fungi also need a lot of sulfur , and is very sensitive to lack of biologically active sulfur .
Yet fungi are the longest-living and largest organisms on the planet .
We are starving an important part of our biosphere .
In a system that has been in a strong attractor-basin for at least 65 million years .
What to do ?
Bee-farmers should intersperse mushroom trays between corves .
Farmers too .
Can the phage activation be reversed ?
An off-switch at higher concentrations of fungi-spores is possible if the phage activation consists of multiple copies of the activation gene .
Some ways :
Eat ripe mushrooms (some spores always stick)
Grow mushrooms in a microclimate and let them sporulate .
But continuously breathing spores is not all that healthy , either .
Eat hairy cheese .
Pulse Fungi Force
Visit a fungi farm once every three days . Just breathe the air . Monitor .
If successful , mushroom sanatoria will evolve .
A new way for the Natural Health Brigade to make money .
Let some cheese grow "hair" and sporulate . Sprinkling some MSM on it will help .
See also previous posts on the role of cheese in healthy reproductive capabilities .
Or just plain health .
Puff Pomanders .
Shades of the Middle Ages !
A pomander around your neck with a small piece of very ripe cheese or mushroom will do as well .
It will also keep the birthrate down . Very Green .
1.Queen-bee jelly .
One would expect that this would have concentrated factors preventing phage-activation .
2.Check auto-immune and other disease incidences of workers at mushroom or cheese farms .
From Gaia's viewpoint humans are the equivalent of a new species of insects with some clever pollination tricks .
To sum up :
From Gaia's viewpoint , the major impact of humans is the decrease in sporulating fungi . This impacts the Gaian Reserve , which has evolved over at least 100 million years . This is not a conscious system . But it has seen off Chixilub and other assorted major fluctuations . A very strong attractor basin .
Alas , humans do not even seem to be aware of the knife at their neck .
An analogue is cockroaches : a cockroach's visual definition is too coarse to see a long , thin blade until it bisects it . It literally cannot see the blade . (I have cut many a cockroach in two using this method . Experimentally verified .)
A lethal threat unperceived because their perception mechanisms are too coarse .
If humans do not restore the balance , their corpses will provide the growing medium for fungi . (This is Gaia's traditional way of balancing things.)
A simple tweak to sewerage works to include mushrooms will do the trick .
Closed eco-systems like Biosphere II spring to mind . Oxygen production fell because fungi were deemed undesirable . Spacecraft will need a better understanding of eco-systems .
And so it goes .
A good summation about flowers is New Scientist of 1 Nov 2008 p36 " Petal Power" .
The rest is general sources .