In his work “How Flowers Changed the World”, Loren Eiseley describes the importance of flowers and how they contributed to the evolution of animals, as well as to the emergence of mankind.
Millions of years ago, before flowers bloomed across the earth, the landscape consisted of green and brown colors. Then, the flowering plants laid down roots, and soon enough, in geological time, expressed more power and efficiency, by being beautiful and colorful. Without flowers, the world and the human race would have never existed.
“Without the gift of flowers and the infinite diversity of their fruits, man and bird, if they continued to exist at all, would be today unrecognizable. Archaeopteryx, the lizard bird, might be snapping at a beetle on a sequoia limb; man might be a nocturnal insectivore gnawing a roach in the dark. The weight of a petal has changed the world and made it ours.”.
The Age of Reptiles was a world in slow motion, a “sleepy,” cold-blooded world, without plants and flowers. The dinosaurs had a slower metabolism than any warm-blooded animal today. The maintenance of body temperature and a high metabolic rate is a great achievement in evolution. The warm-blooded animals, however, need high oxygen consumption. The flowering plants provide the oxygen and energy that warm-blooded animals need. .
Flowers have transformed the once formal, green, cold planet Earth into the vital, colorful, human-populated place that it is today. Eiseley finds plants” methods of distributing their seeds to be literal triumphs over life’s limitations and a metaphor for man himself. Loren Eiseley writes:.
” stiff, formal, upright and green, monotonously green. There is no grass as yet; there are no wide plains rolling in the sun, no tiny daisies dotting the meadows underfoot. There is little versatility about this scene; it is, in truth, a giant’s world.” .
It was an extravagant world, but it contained little variety compared to the one we enjoy today.