Tag Archives: Plants

Speculative Biology Sunday: Arse weed

4 Jul

You have you’re very own flora, made up of thousands of species of organisms and thousands of individuals, most microscopic others less so. Kingdom Plantae, for the most part, seem to be missing out on this particular niche space. It only ever seems to be alga that grow on more slow moving animals such as sloths (if anyone knows any other examples, let me know.)
So here is a plant that live in and around an animal. From some undetermined point in the undetermined future.

Arse weed

The above plant is representative of the genus of plants colloquially known as “arse weeds”. Little is known about their evolutionary history, though their modern ancestors are definitely from somewhere in the Liliaceae family.
They are a bulb based plant and have long fairly broad leaves with parallel venation dominant but not exclusive.
There are usually three or four dominant “anchor roots” growing from the bulb as well as numerous other more short lived roots. These anchor roots are thick and spongey which allows oxygent to travel down to the tips of the roots. These roots also spiral around the wall of the large intestine of the animal it inhabits, and are quite springy. This is the mechanism by which the plant prevents itself from being excreted with the rest of the animals waste product.

After the plant is excreted it is anchored by the anchor roots, and after the animal has finished its business the roots recoil, pulling the plant back into place.
Arse weed is found solely in large ruminant herbivores. Seedlings have been found or observed in other herbivores and occasionally in canids, but for whichever reason these plants never thrive. The small berries produced by these plants are a remarkable white colour and highly aromatic to attract the attention of the colour blind herbivores which the plant inhabits. These berries contain a large, thick coated seed which is scarified during digestion and then germinates in the large intestine. Setting down its anchor roots is the plants first priority and only once these are set will it put any of its resources into poking photosynthetic leaves into the outside world.
Once the plant is established and thriving, a third player arrives to take part in this quirky like symbiosis, though this new arrival is somewhat more malicious. A fly seeks out arse weeds which aren’t yet flowering and takes advantage of the fact that the anus is obstructed by the plant to crawl inside and lay its eggs. These eggs hatch into parasitic larvae which feed on the flesh of the herbivore, much to its irritation. Trying to alleviate this irritation, the herbivore with try and scratch the itch against whatever it can find, usually trees, being knocked about and damaged triggers the plant to begin flowering. By the time the flowers are fully developed and ready for pollination, the fly larvae are fully developed and emerging as fully grown mature flies which then go and receive their first meal from the flowers of the arse weed.
Arse weeds are usually and annual plant as they are often dislodged after long enough.

TYFYT

Speculative Biology Sunday: Green Tube Worms II

7 Feb

Introduction

For those of you which are more familiar with TYFYT, you may remember this post. Essentially it explored the potential for deep sea hydrothermal vent worms Riftia pachyptila to evolve into a from that symbioses with a photosynthetic algea instead of a chemosynthetic bacteria, thus becoming a primary producer in shallow marine ecosystems.
However, all I really covered in the last post is a little about their symbiosis and why they cannot evolve into a photosynthetic form. Which is no fun at all. I wasn’t very happy with it all. So here is something new. SPECULATIVE BIOLOGY SUNDAY. Coming to you fairly regularly with a wide variety of hypothetical evolutions of modern, or extinct flora and fauna of this wonderful rock we all call home, or earth, whatever.

Green Tube Worm

greentubewormsii

The swimming form is a Presulcampester sp, the crawling form is a Repofolium sp, the sessile form is a Loricatuspluma sp.

General Information

For the sake of the arguement, we will suggest that these green tube worms (denoted as gtw henceforth) were created by genetic engineering of Riftia species of giant tube worm, as discussed in the last post. Early after their ‘creation’ the also imbibed and symbiosed with a species of nitrifying bacteria (similair to those found in the roots of  legumes such as acacias and peas) as they were still very susceptible to infection to a wide range of single celled organisms in their larval form. This eventually stabalized out through natural selection of course until the gtw only ever imbibed their photosynthetic and nitrific symbionts. Their nitrific symbionts meant that they could make their own organic nitrates which they could use to make their own proteins a lot easier, this was a great advantage and soon all species of gtw without nitrifying symbionts were outcompeted.
Other notable developments in the evolution of a pinnate form. Similair to pinnate leaves in plants as below.leavesThe pinnate body of species of gtw that evolved it offered not only more surface area compared to volume, but also the use of the pinnate leaves to be used for paddles, legs or allow the delicate extensions of their body used for photosynthesis to be curled up and taken out of harms way should predation disturbance threaten them.
A few species have also reinforced their chitin outer tube and created pockets for their pinnate leaves to be withdrawn into in the case of predation.

This is all for now.
I may add more to this at a later date.

TYFYT

Hussybush

28 Jan

slut roses

Plants are weird. They have to do everything animals do, except they can’t move around.
Could you imagine if people started reproducing using flowers instead of sex? That would be weird.
Club X would start selling blow-up hummingbirds, 13 year olds getting off to gardening magazines and apiarists would all become pimps.

Green Tube Worms

7 Jan

For those of you that aren’t aware, Kingdom Plantea don’t have the entire autotroph niche completely pinned down. I know, right. Shock horror!
There is a place, a far away place where few people have ever set foot. In fact, somewhere where noone has ever set foot. Deep in the briney… deep. There are worms, with the power of bacteria deep inside its trophosome that give it the amazing power of autotrophy!

Giant Tube Worms
So there is a critter out there that is in with a shot at giving the plants a run for their money. What if they could?

Green Tube Worm

Frankly the chances of this happening are next to none.

There are a couple Symbiosis as close as the symbiosis between the tube worms and the bacteria often mean that at least one of the organisms involved cannot survive. In this case it would be the worms that wouldn’t be able to survive. Their biology is intrinsically linked with that of their bacterial symbionts. In fact, the larval form of these worms won’t reach maturity until they are infected with the bacterial symbiont. During their maturity, they also lose their stomachs as well as a few other major organs.
And because they live on mid-ocean ridges. So you’d need quite a significant event to get any of these worms or their larva anywhere near a sea shallow enough to be suitable for these out of place little squirmy dudes. And if they did get there, they probably wouldn’t be able to deal with the mild temperatures, the relaxed pressure and amiable ocean chemistry.

So what basically, if we wanted them to come to the surface and give the plants a run for their money, we’d need to hand them over to a team of mad scientists with too much time on their hands.
If anyone knows anyone like that, can you put them on to it?

Oh also, look these little critters up if you found the idea of photosynthetic animals rather cool. These are fair dinkum too.

Elysia chlorotica

TYFYT

oh and the sequel to this post can be found here

Brainstem

2 Jan

Brainstem
I dedicate this post to an awesome friend, whose name starts with “B” and rhymes with “Power of Attorney”
Not much else to say.
Oh and my favourite new place name is “Scorpion Bight” on the south coast of Western Australia.
Hope you all had a good new year!

TYFYT

Triceratopiary

8 Dec
triceratopiary

Call a garderner! Tell him to bring a paleontologist!

Dedicated to a very awesome minion of a certain greek philosopher.
Been a lot of travellers of time and space recently. A couple from the 50’s and a Steampunk Ambulance.
Bought Diego’s Umbrellas new abum today. Big fan of their last album, but the juries still out on my opinion of Double Panther.

Had a good conversation about common names at work today. How they are utterly stupid.
They make stupid people assume. Stupid people don’t need any help being stupid.
Eucalyptus grandis, for example, has the common name “Flooded Gum”. Now when you’re trying to sell plants at a time like this with water shortage, drought and climate change, anyone one that knows nothing about plants isn’t going to buy it just because of the stupid name.
That and idiots who won’t buy “Smooth Barked Angophora” because they “want a gum tree” is frustrating to no end as well.
Anyway, you’re all just here for the pictures, so I’ll stop there.

Thank You For Your Thyme

Drink Cactus Juice!

25 Nov
Drink Cactus Juice

WARNING: may cause hallucination and hilarity

I do apologize, as this is a blatant “Avatar: The Last Airbender” reference.
For those of you not priviledged enough to have seen it, here is some youtubeducation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi-LOzzzui4
Don’t get used to me posting this often either all you out there in the ether, I just have nothing better to do with my time at the moment.
Thank You For Your Thyme!

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