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Signs Of God, Design In Nature
A thorough examination of the feathers of a bird, the sonar system of a bat or the wing structure of a fly...

Futuyma's Bosphorus Errors
A conference was recently
held at the Bosphorus
University (BU) in Istanbul,
following another held at
the Middle East Technical
University (METU), Turkey,
to which the State University of New York's
evolutionary biologist
Douglas J. Futuyma was
invited as a guest of the
METU Biology Department
teaching staff member
Aykut Kence.
 




 
Home page > Plants By Design > And a plant is born

AND A PLANT IS BORN
Plants By Design


Plants, which have a most important role in the world's ecological balance and, indeed, in the continuation of life, possess a relatively more effective reproductive system than other living creatures. Thanks to this, they multiply without any difficulty. Sometimes it will be enough for a plant stalk to be cut and placed in the ground for the plant to multiply, at others for an insect to land on a flower.
The internally quite complex reproduction system of plants, although seemingly a very simple process, leaves scientists astounded.

A New Life Begins with the Leaving of the Parent Plant
The theory of evolution, which claims that birds are descendants of seedlingreptiles, is not able to explain the colossal differences between these two classes of beings. Birds display properties distinct from reptiles in having a skeletal structure composed of hollow, extremely lightweight bones, and a unique respiratory system and in being warm-blooded creatures. Another structure unique to birds, which places an unbridgeable gap between birds and reptiles, is the feather.

Some plants do not have separate genders, but continue the reproduction of the species as one gender by special means. The new generation which emerges as a result of reproduction in this manner is an exact copy of the generation which brought it into being. The best known asexual reproduction method of plants is the modifying of stems and separating into different parts.
This way of reproducing (modified stems or division), realised with the assistance of some special enzymes, is typical of a large number of plants. For example, grasses and strawberries multiply by using horizontal stems known as "stolons." The potato, a plant which grows underground, multiplies by forming rhizomes (horizontal stems), which enlarge at the ends into tubes.

For some species of plants it is enough if a part of their leaves falls to the ground for another plant to grow. For example, the Bryophyllum daigremontianum produces young plantlets spontaneously on the margins of its leaves. Eventually these drop to the ground and begin an independent life. (1)

In some plants, such as the begonia, when the leaves which fall from it are placed on wet sand, young plantlets soon grow around the leaf base. And again in a short time, these plantlets begin to form a new plant resembling the parent plant. (2)

Bearing these examples in mind, what is fundamentally necessary for a plant to reproduce by putting out a part of itself? Let us think! It is easy to answer this question when the genetic make-up of plants is examined.

Like other living creatures, plants' structural characteristics are encoded in the DNA in their cells. In other words, how a plant will reproduce, how it will breathe, how it will come by its nutrients, its colour, smell, taste, the amount of sugar in it, and other such information, is without exception to be found in all of that plant's cells. The cells in the roots of the plant possess the knowledge of how the leaves will carry out photosynthesis, and the cells in the leaves possess the knowledge of how the roots will take water from the soil. In short, there exist a code and a blueprint for the formation of a complete new plant in every extension that leaves a plant. All the features of the mother plant, based on its in-built genetic information, are to be found, complete, down to the last detail in every cell of every little part that splits off from it.
So, in that case, how and by whom was the information that can form a complete new plant installed in every part of the plant?
budThe probability of all the information being totally complete and the same inside every cell of a plant cannot be attributed to chance. Nor can it be attributed to the plant itself, or the minerals in the soil that carry out this process. These are all parts of the system which make up the plant. Just as it takes a factory engineer to program production line robots, since the robots cannot come by the instructions themselves, so there must be some being which gives to plants the necessary formula for growth and reproduction, since the plants, like the robots, cannot acquire these by themselves.
It is, of course God who implanted the necessary information in the plants' cells, as in all other living things in the world. It is He who without any doubt created everything in complete form, and who is aware of all creation.

Sexually Reproducing Plants
Reproduction carried out by means of the male and female reproductive organs in the flowers of plants is called sexual reproduction. Flowers show differences in features, such as shape, colour, the casing of reproductive cells, and petals. But despite this variety in structure, all flowers serve the same basic functions. These are to produce reproductive cells, prepare them for dispersal, and to fertilise other reproductive cells which reach them.

Pollens, which emerge at the time flowers start to open, are plants' male reproductive cells. Their functions are to reach the female organs in flowers of the same species and to ensure the continuation of their species of plant.

Every plant has its own method, or mechanism, which it uses to send its pollen out. Some plants make use of insects, others of the force of the wind. The most important point in the fertilisation of plants is without doubt the fact that each plant can only fertilise another plant of the same species. For this reason it is most important that the right pollen should go to the right plant.
So, how is it that there is no confusion during fertilisation, especially in the months of spring when there are so many varieties of pollen in the air? How does pollen stand up to its long journeys and changing conditions?
The answer to all these questions will be given when we examine the structure of pollen and the dispersal systems.

Pollens: Perfectly Packaged Genes
pollination plants
Although there is a lot of pollen in the air, plants begin the fertilization process only when pollen from their own species reaches them.

Pollen, a fine powdery substance, is first produced in flowers' male reproductive organs, and then moves to the outer part of the flower. Having reached there it begins to mature and becomes ready to fertilise the next generation. This is the first stage in the life of pollen.

Let us first cast a glance at the structure of pollen. Pollen is made up of micro-organisms invisible to the naked eye (each beech tree pollen grain is 2 microns in size, and each pumpkin pollen grain is 200 microns in size) (1 micron = 1/1,000 mm). A pollen grain consists of two sperm cells (generative cells) contained within a larger cell(tube cell).

Each grain of pollen may be likened to a sort of box. Inside are the plant's reproductive cells. It is essential for these cells to be well concealed to protect their life and keep them safe from external dangers. For this reason the structure of the box is very strong. The box is surrounded by a wall called the "sporoderm." The outermost layer of this wall, called exine, is the most resistant material known in the organic world, and its chemical make-up has not yet been fully analysed. This material is generally very resistant to damage from acids or enzymes. It is furthermore unaffected by high temperature and pressure. As we have seen, very detailed precautions have been taken to protect the pollen, which is essential for the continued existence of plants. The grains have been very specially wrapped up. Thanks to this, whatever method the pollen is dispersed by, it can remain alive even miles away from the parent plant. Besides the fact that pollen grains are coated with a very resistant material, they are also dispersed in very large numbers, which guarantees the multiplication of that plant.
As we have seen from the detailed structure of pollen, God reveals to us His incomparable art in all the things He creates and wishes us to think about them.
pollens1pollens3
pollens2pollens4
Plants give off billions of pollen grains in every reproduction phase. The reason for pollen count being so high is to safeguard the reproduction of the plant against any danger .

Generally speaking, there are two different ways that pollen reaches the flowers to fertilise it. In the process of dispersal, the first stage in the fertilisation process, the pollen may stick to the body of a bee, butterfly, or other insect, and have itself carried that way, or may be borne along by air currents.

Pollens Which Open Their Sails to the Wind
Many plants in the world make use of the wind to disperse their pollen, for the continuation of the species. Plants such as oak, willow, poplar, pines, grasses, wheat, etc. are wind pollinated. The wind takes the minute particles from the plants, carries them to other plants of the same species, and thus ensures fertilisation.

palm trees
Palm trees, which look so splendid, are among those plants which fertilize through the wind.

There are still many points which scientists are at a loss to explain, and many questions still awaiting answers regarding wind pollination. For example, how does each of the thousands of varieties of pollen borne by the wind recognise plants of its own species? How is it that the pollen given off by the plant manage to reach the plant's female organs without getting stuck anywhere? Although the probabilities of fertilisation are quite low, how is it that thousands of plants are fertilised in this way, and furthermore have been for millions of years?

To provide the answers to these questions, Cornell University's Karl J. Niklas and his team set out to study plants which pollinate by the wind. The results they produced were exceedingly surprising. Niklas and his team discovered that wind pollinated plants have aerodynamic flower structures to enable them to attract large quantities of pollen from the air.

And what is this aerodynamic structure in plants? What effect does it have? To provide the answers to these questions, we shall first have to explain what is meant by "aerodynamic structure." Forces originating in air currents operate on bodies moving in the air. Thanks to these forces, known as aerodynamic forces, bodies which manage to move in the air are known as "aerodynamically structured bodies." Some plants which employ wind pollination use this aerodynamic structure in a most effective manner. The best example of this is to be seen in pine cones.

 

Aerodynamic Cones
Perhaps the most important question which led Karl Niklas and his team to make a study of wind pollination was "How is it that with this great number of pollens in the air the pollen from one plant is not caught by another species of plant and reaches other plants only of its own species?" This was the question which led scientists to study plants which fertilise by the wind, in particular pine cones.
In trees with cones, known for their long lives and height, the cones form male and female structures. Male and female cones can be on different trees as well as on the same tree. There are specially designed channels on the cones to draw to themselves the currents which carry the pollen. The pollen can easily reach the reproductive areas, thanks to these channels.
Female cones are larger than male cones and grow singly. The female cones consist of a central axis having arranged around it numerous sporophylls - leaf-like structures. These are structures in the form of casings resembling fish scales. It is at the base of these scales that two ovules (parts where eggs are formed) develop. When the cones are ready to pollinate, these cases open up into two sides. In this way they enable pollen from male cones to enter.

pine cone pollination
The air current created around a female pine cone is very important in pollination. First the wind is turned to the middle of the cone a)After blowing around the centre it passes over the surface of the scales b) The air suddenly and irregularly starts to circulate by the opening to the egg on each scale and pollen gathers in that region c) The pollens are then sent downwards and towards the scales parallel to the wind.

In addition, there are special assisting structures which enable pollen to enter the cone with ease. For example, the scales of the female cone are covered with sticky hairs. Thanks to these hairs, the pollen can easily be taken inside for fertilisation. After fertilisation, the female cones turn into wooden structures containing a seed. Later on, the seeds bring forth new plants under suitable conditions. Female cones also possess another striking property. The area where the egg forms (ovule) is very close to the centre of the cone. It would apparently be difficult for the pollen to reach this area. Because, in order to reach the inner part of the cone, it has to enter a special path which leads to the centre. Although at first sight this looks as if it might be a disadvantage to the fertilisation of cones, studies revealed that this was not the case.

pine cone pollens
Cones have different thicknesses and shapes depending on their species.

To find out how this particular fertilisation system in the cones works, an experiment was carried out by preparing a model cone. The motion of small balloons filled with helium and left in currents of air was observed. It was found that these small balloons easily followed the air currents and possessed the property of being able to easily enter the narrow corridors in the cone.
Subsequently, the movements of the balloons in this experimental model were filmed using a special photographic technique. These images were then analysed with the help of a computer and the direction and speed of the wind were established.

According to the results from the computer, it was discovered that cones altered the movement of the wind in three ways. First, the direction of the wind is turned towards the centre by means of the leaves. Then later, the wind in this region is twisted and pulled into the area where the eggs are formed. In the second movement, the wind, which spins like a whirlpool and touches all the little casings, is then directed towards the region which opens to the centre of the cone. Thirdly, thanks to its protuberances which give rise to small currents, the cone turns the wind downwards and directs it towards the casings.

In addition, there are special assisting structures which enable pollen to enter the cone with ease. For example, the scales of the female cone are covered with sticky hairs. Thanks to these hairs, the pollen can easily be taken inside for fertilisation. After fertilisation, the female cones turn into wooden structures containing a seed. Later on, the seeds bring forth new plants under suitable conditions. Female cones also possess another striking property. The area where the egg forms (ovule) is very close to the centre of the cone. It would apparently be difficult for the pollen to reach this area. Because, in order to reach the inner part of the cone, it has to enter a special path which leads to the centre. Although at first sight this looks as if it might be a disadvantage to the fertilisation of cones, studies revealed that this was not the case.

To find out how this particular fertilisation system in the cones works, an experiment was carried out by preparing a model cone. The motion of small balloons filled with helium and left in currents of air was observed. It was found that these small balloons easily followed the air currents and possessed the property of being able to easily enter the narrow corridors in the cone.
Subsequently, the movements of the balloons in this experimental model were filmed using a special photographic technique. These images were then analysed with the help of a computer and the direction and speed of the wind were established.

According to the results from the computer, it was discovered that cones altered the movement of the wind in three ways. First, the direction of the wind is turned towards the centre by means of the leaves. Then later, the wind in this region is twisted and pulled into the area where the eggs are formed. In the second movement, the wind, which spins like a whirlpool and touches all the little casings, is then directed towards the region which opens to the centre of the cone. Thirdly, thanks to its protuberances which give rise to small currents, the cone turns the wind downwards and directs it towards the casings.
Thanks to these movements most of the pollen in the air reaches the desired destination. And here there is no doubt that the point most worthy of note is that these three operations, which complement each other, must necessarily be coterminous. The perfect planning of the cones emerges at this point.
The theory of evolution claims that, as with all living things, there was a phased development over time in plants, too. According to evolutionists, the reason for the flawless structure of plants is coincidence. To appreciate the invalidity of this claim it will suffice to examine the faultless structure of the cones' reproductive system.

It is not possible for any living species to perpetuate itself without a reproductive system. This inevitable truth also applies to pine trees and their cones, of course. In other words, the reproductive system in the cones must have existed together with pine trees when they first emerged. It is not possible for the cones' perfect structure to have come into existence of its own accord over a period of time in different stages. Because it is necessary for the structure which leads the wind to the cones, for another structure which later directs the wind into the channels, and for the channels which lead to the area where the eggs are, to have come into existence at the same time with no detail missing. If one of these structures were missing, it would not be possible for this reproductive system to work. It only remains to say that the impossibility of the egg cell in the cone and the sperm cells which will fertilise it having come into existence by themselves by chance is another cul-de-sac from the point of view of the theory of evolution.

For all the parts of such a system to have emerged at the same time by coincidence, when it is impossible for even one part to have done so, is quite inconceivable. Scientific findings invalidate the theory of evolution's claims of emergence by chance from every point of view. For this reason, it is quite evident that if from the moment cones first appeared, they were in perfect form and possessed a flawless system, it was because they had been created by God.

Pine trees have other features which speed up the trapping of pollens. For example, female cones are generally formed at the tips of branches. This reduces the loss of pollen to a minimum.
Moreover, the leaves around the cones help more pollen to fall on the cones by reducing the speed of the air currents. The symmetrical arrangement of the leaves around the cones assists in the trapping of pollens coming from all directions.

Like all pollens, pine pollens have different shapes, sizes, and densities according to their species. For example, the pollen of one species are of a density that prevents them from following the air currents set up by cones of another species. For this reason they leave the current set up by the cone and fall to the ground. All varieties of cone set up air currents most suited to their own species of pollen. This feature of cones does not just serve to trap pollens. Plants use this filtration of the air currents for very different functions. For example, by this method female cones are able to change the direction of fungus pollens which could damage their egg cells.

pine cone
The leaves of the American hybrid pine are situated where they cannot obstruct the passage of the pollen, so that fertilization is made easier.

The precautions taken by plants so that their pollen, thrown into the air at random, can reach their own species, are not limited to these. A plant's producing a great deal more pollen than is required to some extent guarantees the pollination process. Thanks to this the plant is not affected by pollen losses which could come about for various reasons. For example, every male cone on a pine tree produces more than 5 million grains of pollen a year, and one pine tree on its own produces in the region of 12.5 billion grains of pollen a year, which is an extraordinary number when compared to other living things. (3)
Even so, pollens borne by the wind still face a number of obstacles. One of these is leaves. Therefore when pollens are discharged into the air, some plants (hazelnut, walnut, etc.) open their flowers before their leaves, so that pollination may take place while their leaves are still undeveloped. Flowers are found on three parts of cereals and pines to facilitate pollination. In this case, the leaves are so organised as not to be an obstacle to the movement of the pollen.

By means of these pre-arrangements, pollens can go some considerable distances. The distance varies with the species. For example, pollens with air sacs can travel much greater distances than other species. It has been established that pine pollens with two such air sacs can be carried up to 300 kilometres on high air currents. (4)

Equally important is the fact that thousands of varieties of pollen travel such distances in the air, carried on the same wind, but without any confusion between them.

Pollens Aimed at their Target
pine coneTo have a better understanding of the amazing features of plants which are fertilised by means of the wind, let us take another example:
Rockets have to follow a pre-determined trajectory to reach their targets. For this reason, very careful calculations have to go into the planning of the rocket if it is to reach its target. For instance, the rocket's features, its motor capacity and flight speed, along with particulars of weather conditions, such as air density, must be programmed in detail. Furthermore, there has to be exact knowledge of the structure of the target area and the prevailing conditions there. And these factors have to be arrived at by making the most minute measurements. Otherwise the rocket will go off course and fail to reach its target. For a rocket to successfully hit its target, many engineers have to work together and think everything out in great detail. It is clear that success in aiming at and hitting the target is the product of teamwork, fine calculation, and superior technology.

The flawless reproduction system in cones resembles rockets' being aimed at a target, in that everything is very accurately pre-planned with very sensitive adjustments. Many details, such as the direction of the air current, the different thicknesses of cones, the shape of the leaves, etc., have been specially taken into account and reproduction plans built on the basis of this information.
The existence of such complex structures in plants raises the question of how these mechanisms came about. Let us answer that question with another. Can this structure in cones be the work of chance?
The system in-built in the rockets is the result of long years of study and hard work by highly intelligent and knowledgeable engineers who are experts in their field. The complex structures in the cones, which have nearly the same working system as rockets, have been especially planned in the same way. To claim that a rocket could have come about by chance and say that it could hit a target by following a random trajectory is just as illogical as claiming that the extraordinary movements of pollen, aimed at the target in much the same way, and the detailed structure in the cones, could have come about as the result of coincidences.

And, of course, it is impossible that pollens could have the ability and knowledge to find their different ways on this journey. At the end of the day, pollen is a collection of cells. Going even deeper, it is something made up of unconscious atoms. There is no doubt that a cone's possession of a system so replete with detailed information about fertilisation is the result of its perfect creation by God, the Almighty and All-Knowing.

Another important point in the fertilisation of pine trees is the wind's being kept under control. The winds' performing their transport duties in such a flawless way is without doubt due to God, the Lord of all the worlds who directs the whole affair from heavens to earth.

All the plants in the world, without exception, perform such operations. Each and every species has known what it has to do since it first appeared. This event, which happens with the assistance of wind currents, has been going on for millions of years with no difficulty, despite being based on unlikely probabilities. As we have seen, everything happens in its due place and with perfect timing, because each one of these mechanisms is obliged to work in unison with all of the others and at the same point in time. If one of them were absent, that would mean the end of that species of plant.

pine tree fossilA fossil pinecone, some 20 million years old.

It is clear that these systems, which have no intelligence, will, or consciousness of their own, neither in part nor as a whole, play their role in these unbelievable events by the order and through the creation of God, Possessor of infinite power and knowledge, who controls everything every second and has planned everything down to the tiniest detail.

To illustrate this point, let us imagine that we see a faultless technological implement, factory, or building, every detail of which has been planned with forethought: we feel no doubt that each one of these has a planner. We know, of course, that they were made by knowledgeable people and that there was control over every stage. Nobody can then stand up and claim that these things came about by themselves over time. We appreciate, respect, and praise the intelligence of those who planned them and what their skill produced.

And all living things were created together with systems planned down to the finest detail and dependent on the most sensitive balances. We see this wherever we look, without exception. There is no doubt that it is God who is worthy of praise here, who created all living creatures with all the abilities they possess.


References:

(1) Malcolm Wilkins, Plantwatching, New York, Facts on File Publications, 1988, P. 164
(2) Malcolm Wilkins, Plantwatching, New York, Facts on File Publications, 1988, p. 164
(3) Bilim ve Teknik Dergisi (Science and Technology Journal), May 1995, p.76
(4) Bilim ve Teknik Dergisi (Science and Technology Journal), May 1995, p.77

 

 
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