Dinosaurs invented flowers

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Footholds are crucial for major adaptive revolutions. (animatronic dinosaur)Any new group finds it difficult to break into an ecosystem already full of old, established groups. Conifers were highly adaptive old-timers in Early Cretaceous times—the conifers had begun indeed long before the first dinosaur evolved in the Triassic. Cycadeoids were old-timers too, already diverse in the Early Jurassic epoch. When angiosperms first evolved, they were confronted with meadows, woodlands, and forests full of long-lived, highly refined plants. Early angiosperms possessed adaptations that were new and potentially revolutionary. But they needed some edge—an opening for breaking out of the confines imposed by the older groups to start proliferating species. Herbivorous dinosaurs gave them that initial break.

 

Flowering plants and low-feeding beaked dinosaurs must have coevolved in a mutually beneficial way. (dinosaur factory)As more and more new kinds of Cretaceous beaked dinosaurs entered the system, more and more angiosperm families evolved. From the meek beginning of a few Early Cretaceous species, the angiosperms grew into a mighty clan by the Late Cretaceous, boasting more species than conifers and cycadeoids combined. When the Cretaceous ended, massive extinctions again swept through the terrestrial habitats. Cycadeoids disappeared, but angiosperms not only survived, they increased their share of the species count in epoch after epoch down to the present day.

 

Modern angiosperms no longer depend upon intense low feeding for their advantage over conifers and ferns. (big size dinosaur for sale)They now contain hundreds of specializations for every habitat from tall climax forests to swamps and deserts, windswept mountain meadows and bare rock faces. But in those first critical years of their evolutionary history, the angiosperms were struggling newcomers. Square snouts and pincerlike beaks helped the flowering plants beat the floral competition and establish the angiosperms as the fastest-evolving plant group. There was of course no plan in this. Stegosaurus didn’t die out purposely to permit its low-cropping cousins to take over and make the world fit for flowers. Wide-mouthed ankylosaurs didn’t plan to munch down the competition. It was all serendipitous. (lifelike dinosaur for sale)Nonetheless, because of the way they suffered extinction and then rebuilt their herbivorous groups, the dinosaurs played a central role in one of the grandest dramas of the flora. In their way, dinosaurs invented flowers. Without them, perhaps our modern world would yet be as dull green and monotonous as was the Jurassic flora.