Clever flowers make warm nectar, according to the Science Show, ABC (Australia) Radio National, 12 Aug 2006. Researchers at Cambridge University have been studying conical shaped cells on flower petals that focus sunlight, and found that they made the flowers warmer. Insects are often observed to rest in warm flowers, so the researchers set up an experiment to see if warm nectar was an extra attraction to insect pollinators. They used artificial flowers with warm and cool nectar and found that bees consistently preferred the warm nectar. Beverley Glover, on the researchers commented; “the implication that we’re really most excited about is that flowers are cleverer than we thought they were. They can use tricks to persuade pollinators to visit them without actually expending any energy or much energy, providing a greater reward. So this is a very simple trick; light is trapped into the flower and heat with it using a lens-shaped cell, and that costs the flower very little to produce and yet in exchange it gets the benefit of extra pollinator attention.” The benefit to the insects is that warm nectar helps keep them warm enough to fly. About 80 percent of all flowering plants have the conical shaped cells that focus sunlight, so the researchers are planning to study Antirrhinum flowers (snapdragons) see if there is any difference in pollination between normal flowers, which have these cells, and mutant flowers that have flat cells.
Editorial Comment: Capturing sunlight to warm flowers and attract insects is clever, but to the give the credit to the flowers is dumb! Giving glory to the creation rather than the Creator is a classic example of those who “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). It is only common sense to recognise that the artificial light trapping flowers were created by scientists outside the flower, so why not go the rest of the way and acknowledge the natural light trapping flowers which warm insects are also the creation of a truly clever Creator, Who is outside both the flowers and the insects. (Ref. mutualism, metabolism, thermoregulation)
30th August 2006