The woods. We call them by their primary substance: wood. But would wood evolve from plants lacking woody stems? Was there some evolutionary pressure to force plants to grow tall to reach the sun, so that lucky mutations found a way to produce lignin and the other building blocks of wood? What other mutations did the blind evolutionary algorithm have to find to organize the components into trunks for trees? Two discoveries, a fossil and a mechanism, offer evolutionists a way to enhance their woody story.
The early wood. A fossil plant said to be 400 million years old was reported in the BBC News. The cross-section of a stem of this early Devonian plant shows the rings of cells characteristic of wood. The find pushes the origin of wood “about 10 million years earlier than previously thought,” said Mark Kinver, who failed to identify the thinkers (presumably evolutionists).
Surprisingly, it appears this plant (about 8-16 inches tall) did not need wood for height. The discoverers from the University of Liege in Belgium feel the “unexpected” woody structure “appeared to be a mechanism to transport water rather than acting as a support to allow plants to grow taller.” Dr. Philippe Gerienne said the findings “helped shed light on the initial biological role of the woody substance in early plants” because it appears “rays (horizontal cells) most probably evolved after the other cells in wood (longitudinal cells).” How he knew that was not explained.
Michael Marshall at New Scientist gave an abbreviated report on this discovery, calling this the “World’s oldest wood – so far”. Trees didn’t begin to evolve till15 million years later, he said. That’s a long time for plants to grow close to the ground with a structurally-strong material that could have given them height.
The paper by Gerienne’s team was published in Science.1 The authors admitted in the abstract, “The first steps of wood evolution are unknown.” They could only offer a suggestion: “The small size of both plants and the presence of thick-walled cells in their cortex support the earlier suggestion that the evolution of wood was initially driven by hydraulic constraints rather than by the necessity of mechanical support for increasing height….”
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