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Ghosts of Evolution, or Why Avocados Have Such Huge Pits  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
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I've never seen anything quite like this before...

Ponder avocado
before it's guacamole.
To plant those pits in a mound of poop takes a big butt!
Holy Moley

Clue - it's all down to dinosaurs, or maybe giant sloths...



And an interesting, related article - Why the Avocado Should Have Gone the Way of the Dodo
 
Tyler Ludens
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Rather a strange title, considering "gone the way of the Dodo" implies being driven extinct by humans, whereas the avocado has done just the opposite, benefiting tremendously from the action of human.

In our area we have several plants from the age of giant mammals: Osage Orange, Honey Locust, Prickly Pear, Devil's Claw, and Horse Crippler.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Very interesting read Burra, thank you for posting it.

I've always found the suppositions of science rather like a best guess game.
Remember the first episode of the 1980's Buck Rodgers in the 21st century TV show?
The head of the department of antiquities picks up a hair dryer and tells Buck "this is a ray gun from the 20th century, but we have not discovered how to activate it"

If only we could invent "go back TV" then we would be able to observe and determine if what some scientists tout as fact is correct.
While I am sure the avocado was around and eaten by large animals, there is also the probability that there were creatures not unlike the fruit bat that ate them too.
A seed being poisonous might not be anything more than a way to ensure that the seed is not eaten but rather discarded by the animals that use the fruit for food.
It is possible that the smaller, flying creatures could and would carry off the fruits, some being accidently dropped and so seeded where they fell and rotted.

The best (surest) method of growing an avocado tree is to sacrifice one, if you drop or place a whole avocado into a depression in the soil, cover it with leaves and walk away.
Then you come back in about six months or so and find a tree sprouted and growing.
The idea that mammoths spread the seeds is also a good one but, if the only way the tree could reproduce was by these animals, then it would have been long gone before humans "discovered" it was good to eat.
Avocado trees are fairly long lived as trees go but they would not have survived thousands of years after the giants were gone, unless there were other creatures using them for food and spreading the seeds.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The Osage Orange currently seems to spread by being washed by floodwaters. Possibly other large fruits were disbursed by this method as well as by large mammals.

I'm suspicious of the "One Way" theories often promoted, that's there's only one way something could have happened. I understand why this is in scientific papers, because folks want to put forth their hypothesis. But I think there's generally many reasons why something is the way it is.
 
Dan Boone
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This paragraph from the Smithsonian article made me laugh:

“The wild varieties of avocados that are still somewhat available have a thin fleshy area around the seed—it wouldn’t necessarily be something that we would recognize as edible,” says Barlow. “When we go to the store and we see an avocado on sale, it’s always a question of will this be one with a tiny seed, or will it be a batch where the seed takes up five-sixths of the space of the fruit?”


I've been struggling with this at my local discount grocer, which sells a lot of produce sourced from Mexico. They routinely have $.59 avocados (compared to the $1.18 ones at my local MegaLoMart) but it's a constant adventure trying to guess which ones of them will have pits that are 90% of the fruit. Usually they are OK, but about one in six is no bargain!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Dan Boone wrote:This paragraph from the Smithsonian article made me laugh:

“The wild varieties of avocados that are still somewhat available have a thin fleshy area around the seed—it wouldn’t necessarily be something that we would recognize as edible,” says Barlow. “When we go to the store and we see an avocado on sale, it’s always a question of will this be one with a tiny seed, or will it be a batch where the seed takes up five-sixths of the space of the fruit?”


I've been struggling with this at my local discount grocer, which sells a lot of produce sourced from Mexico. They routinely have $.59 avocados (compared to the $1.18 ones at my local MegaLoMart) but it's a constant adventure trying to guess which ones of them will have pits that are 90% of the fruit. Usually they are OK, but about one in six is no bargain!


It isn't a matter of any particular tree producing large seeds or small seeds, both will occur on the same tree.
I remember climbing up into a 130 year old avocado tree and harvesting about 200 fruits, of that quantity about 1/4 were large seed avocados with the rest being a spread going down to a small seed that a quarter would cover.
I think it is more a matter of the pollination that determines the individual fruit's seed size.
I currently have four seeds sprouting and no two are the same size.
 
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