Monday, 9 May 2011

Convergent Evolution

Trillium grandiflorium

  Its springtime today and I went on a walk to a local park overlooking the Scarborough bluffs. One definite sign is the Trilliums blooming in the shades of the trees. The Trillium grandiflorium is the emblem of Ontario and has a form of symbiosis with ants where the seeds have an edible component known as an elaiosome. The ants remove the seeds from the ovary of the plant and transport them to their nest where they eat the elaiosomes and put the remainder in their garbage. The seeds are effectively planted in a rich growing media by the ants and subsequently germinate. This type of seed dispersal is termed myrmecochry from the Greek "ant" (myrmex) and "dispersal" (kore) and is used by many species of flora so it’s a form of convergent evolution in flowering plants.

Spring carpet of Trilliums

  Another form of convergent evolution is the development by a number of manufacturers of mine detectors from their war time origins to the current treasure hunting usage. When I was walking today, I met a local treasure hunter searching for buried items. Sorry for the picture quality but I was using my cell phone camera.
Local treasure hunter

He was using a Minelab X-TERRA 705 with an iron metal mask, preset detecting patterns, automatic ground balancing, two pinpoint modes and a depth indicator. After he found a target, he also had a narrow point detector for the final recovery of the item. He likes to hunt in the spring because the soil is wet and easier to dig. I also found out about such recommendations as searching near trees for lost coins. He said that last week he found an old silver coin worth approximately $170 dollars in a local ravine.
Retrieving target with narrow detector (top)

My oldest daughter who is studying to be an archaeologist considers them to be looters. It’s not a problem in North America but Americans go on organized treasure hunts to Europe and the Middle East. They may consider it profitable fun but the hobby can wreck havoc with local archaeological sites. Here’s a video made by a prominent treasurer hunter, Chicago Ron and his band of Yankee collectors in merry old England.

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