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Tiffany S.
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I earned $5.00 for completing the Awards Night 2017 bonus using Ibotta.

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How flowers changed the world : Flowers appeared on Earth about 130 million years ago. Before flowers, land plants evolved from a group of green algae, perhaps as early as 510 million years ago, but the evolution of the seed which was deployed for dispersal made plants ubiquitous. And this helped to increase the concentration of Oxygen in the atmosphere. Do watch this video which is kind of fantastic : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXydMRoL9RU (How to grow a planet with prof Iain Stewart.

Recently evolved : If all Earth's history were compressed into an hour, flowering plants would exist for only the last 90 seconds. But once they took firm root about 100 million years ago, they swiftly diversified in an explosion of varieties that established most of the flowering plant families of the modern world.

It's why we exist : Today flowering plant species outnumber by twenty to one those of ferns and cone-bearing trees, or conifers, which had thrived for 200 million years before the first bloom appeared. As a food source flowering plants provide us and the rest of the animal world with the nourishment that is fundamental to our existence. In the words of Walter Judd, a botanist at the University of Florida, "If it weren't for flowering plants, we humans wouldn't be here."

Evolution and Innovation : What allowed flowering plants to dominate the world's flora so quickly? What was their great innovation? Early angiosperms got their start on the margins. In a world dominated by conifers and ferns, these botanical newcomers managed to get a toehold in areas of ecological disturbance, such as floodplains and volcanic regions, and adapted quickly to new environments. Fossil evidence leads some botanists to believe that the first flowering plants were herbaceous, meaning they grew no woody parts. (The latest genetic research, however, indicates that most ancient angiosperm lines included both herbaceous and woody plants.) Unlike trees, which require years to mature and bear seed, herbaceous angiosperms live, reproduce, and die in short life cycles. This enables them to seed new ground quickly and perhaps allowed them to evolve faster than their competitors, advantages that may have helped give rise to their diversity.

Flashy is better : Casting pollen to the wind is a hit-or-miss method of reproduction. Although wind pollination suffices for many plant species, direct delivery by insects is far more efficient. Insects doubtless began visiting and pollinating angiosperms as soon as the new plants appeared on Earth some 130 million years ago. But it would be another 30 or 40 million years before flowering plants grabbed the attention of insect pollinators by flaunting flashy petals.

References and Sources:

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/prehistoric-world/big-bloom/

http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/flowers-rainfall/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-flowers-changed-world-ecosystems-art-galleries-180956110/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_plants

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