“There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive.” – David Attenborough
Daily Nugget of Gold 1442
It is an idea many people have kicked around from time to time, are plants intelligent? While they lack what we’d call a brain, they make decisions just the same. Remember, too, we ourselves have degrees of conscious or intelligent behavior at our cellular level. Our cells- even without a brain, seem to make many important decisions just the same. They take on food and eliminate waste and apparently “know” the difference between the two. Our cells also reproduce and form various types of tissue based on function and placement in the body. It’s through the departmentalization of our cells that we owe our complex and wondrous bodies.
Plant life at the cellular level shares a lot of those attributes. Cells in a plant might be leaf cells, some cells form stems or roots and all of the cells in a complex plant have various and departmentalized duties to perform. Plants do such amazing things such as turn towards the sun, produce aromatic fragrances to attract insects and birds to help them sexually reproduce with other plants in their species, and produce fruit which is food for animals to insure that their seeds are fertilized and deposited away from the parent.
Oddly enough, some animals have evolved in such a way as to get all of their nutrition from one certain plant, and sometimes plants evolve in a way to get one particular species of animal to handle its reproductive chores. Other plants have figured out how to get nutrition from consuming insects and have developed complex methods for luring and trapping them.
If we assume that intelligent agents only exist in the animal kingdom, we seem to be making a huge error in judgment it seems. Plants might not feel pain, but then again- we might just not have a way of knowing if they do or not. Plants do employ a number of different defenses from being ravaged by animals where they don’t wish to be, such as in their leaf structure or stems. They might have thorns to ward off scavengers or perhaps contain any one of a large number of chemical defenses like caffeine or nicotine just to name a couple. We might be okay, even a little more alert, from drinking something with a bit of caffeine in it, but to a bug eating leaves of such a plant, it’s too much to safely ingest.
Where do plants get their smarts from if they have no brains? How is it possible for them to evolve so many different ways of surviving and flourishing without a mind? We’re going to leave these questions open and then get down to seemingly inanimate objects, next time.
Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves
“What is the likelihood of ever constructing a watch by shaking a box with all of its parts until it forms one?”
Copyright 2015 Kevin Littleton, all rights reserved.