“Human Designers Struggle to Match Biological Designs”

That’s the title of a recent post on the antiscience website “Evolution News.” And I agree — that’s one of the themes of my book, Darwinian Agriculture.  They give the sophisticated adaptations of Venus flytraps and oysters as examples.  But where I attribute these adaptations to millions of years of natural selection — every species on earth evolved from a common ancestor, so we’ve all been evolving in some form for the same length of time —  they claim they were “already superb from the beginning.”   I assume they mean the beginning of life on earth, which all the scientific evidence says was about four billion years ago — about a million times longer than Bible-based estimates. The first flowering plants diverged from gymnosperms less than 250 million years ago and Venus flytraps are, of course, even more recent.  Their evolution is discussed in a 2009 paper in New Phytologist, a leading plant-science journal.

3 thoughts on ““Human Designers Struggle to Match Biological Designs”

  1. Ford,
    Next up you should make a few comments on the latest from Toby Kiers’ lab on mycorrhizal fungi’s ability to trade phosphorus with their plant commensals. Whiteside et al 2019 Current Biol. 29, 1-8. Pretty cool technique. I seem to recall you’ve worked with Toby in the past. Perhaps some personal insights??


    1. Thanks for alerting me to this, Clem. I was away at a couple meetings. Last time I saw Toby (formerly my PhD student), she showed me movies of quantum dots moving through hyphae, but I didn’t know the paper was out. She’s good at building collaborations to combine the skills and knowledge needed for challenging problems. She didn’t learn that from me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe she didn’t pick up that particular skill from working with you, but I’m sure there are other significant experiences she gained while working with you. I’ve always been fascinated by how our individual personal experiences coalesce with the observations we have in front of us. Some folks are very creative, some very focused and deliberate, and others more diplomatic and collegial (and various combinations of these strengths).


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