Fossil pollen links flowers and insects, according to articles in ScienceDaily and PNAS 22 Jan 2008. Scientists at University of Florida have found nine species of fossil pollen believed to be 96 million years old. The pollen is in clumps indicating that the plants that produced it were pollinated by insects rather than by wind. Flowers that are specialised for insect pollination form their pollen grains into clumps, whereas wind pollinated plants produce pollen as small individual grains.

According to ScienceDaily the study “provides strong evidence for the widely accepted hypothesis that insects drove the massive adaptive radiation of early flowering plants when they rapidly diversified and expanded to exploit new terrestrial niches.” David Dilcher of Florida Museum of Natural History commented: “Our study of clumping pollen shows that insect pollinators most likely have always played a large role in the evolution of flowering plants. It was true 96 million years ago and we are seeing it today with the potential threat to our agricultural crops because of the collapse of the honeybee colonies. The insect pollinators provide for more efficient and effective pollination of flowering plants.”


Editorial Comment: The availability of pollen carrying insects will help plants to survive, provided they already produce clumped pollen, but it does not explain how plants came to produce clumped pollen in the first place. The belief that “insects drove the massive adaptive radiation of early flowering plants” may be “widely accepted” but it is a belief by faith alone. Evolutionary scientists have yet to explain how the behaviour of insects can make changes to the genes in plants that control the formation of pollen. The interdependence of different living organisms, such and plants and insects, is much better explained by a creator making both to work together in a fully functioning ecosystem. (Ref. pollination, palynology, bees)

Evidence News 18 March 2008