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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Evolution Thinks Up Disgusting Things

Evolution Thinks Up Disgusting Things

Author: Reilly Capps/Monday, August 24, 2015/Categories: humor, plants

I went to the Denver Botanic Gardens, full of intricate Malayan Orchids, blooming Lilies of the Nile and purple New England Aster. And I walked right past to see the world's worst-smelling flower.

The Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum, or giant phallus form) has petals as big as a toddler and a vibrant red inside, but it smells like August roadkill. It is the strangest combination of beauty and bad smell since Courtney Love. But, attracted by the novelty, visitors lined up, sometimes for six hours, to smell the Corpse Flower. It proves that you can attract crowds despite being disgusting. In unrelated news, 30,000 people attended a Trump rally.

Strange flower. It's like the Committee in Charge of Evolution sits around a giant conference table and just makes weird stuff up. Here's how the meeting might go: The four principals of evolution are Chance, Time, Mutation and Death. Chance chairs.

Chance: "Let's invent some new flowers. There are no bad ideas here, people, except maybe that puce and orange tie death is wearing! Ha!" (Death grumbles, adjusts tie over his black death cloak.) "We're talking flowers here. What you got, time? I mean, after you started late on flowers. You had ferns three billion years ago but you just imagined flowers 150 million years ago? Nice try."

Time: "Well boss, since then, mutation and death have worked wonders. For example, the Bee Orchid -- Ophrys apifera -- see the slide --


... it looks like a bee, tricking males bees into, um, thinking the orchid is a female bee, and, um, going at it with the wrong, uh, thing ..."

Chance: "Hey hey! Hey Death, didn't that happen to you with that ladyboy in Bangkok! Ha ha ha ha!" (Death raps bony fingers on conference table.) "Mutation, time good work. Now, death, thoughts on flowers? Or are you happy just getting flowers spread at funerals? Ha!"

Chance: "No, you're good, death, you're good. What would we do without you --- besides be happy? Ha!" (Death's eyeless sockets pore into his boss) "Kidding! If organisms never died, there would be no natural selection. You're quality control. Now, what about flowers? Any ideas?"

Death: "Death."

Chance: "Right, you're death. Got it."

Death: "Death flower."

Chance: "Flowers all die, got it.

Death: "Rrrrrrrrrrruuuuuuummmmmm. Years of nights should pass before the appointed hours, when the flower opens to a sickening stench of rotting, mushifying emulsions of putrid carrion. The lords of the flies shall dine in ken of death, ever-present, vengeful death, and from that death life shall rise again to die."




Chance: "Everything ok at home, death? Mrs. Death treating you ok?"

Death: "Just an idea."

Mutation: (Slow claps. Soon, Time joins in.) Smart! A revelation! Magnificent! To accomplish fertilization, so many other flowers attract bees with nice scents and ravishing colors. But this flower has a new idea! After being dormant for years, storing up energy, this flower perfumes itself with "eau de night soil" and "Calvin Klein's Dead Flesh," which calls out to the beetles, flies and other perverts of the insect world. These morbid weirdos, thinking they're eating dead people, get little nutrition, but pick up pollen and pull it to other flowers. For nearly everyone, this is the flower from "Little Shop of Horrors." But to the Corpse Flower and the flies, this is a symphony. It's a stroke of genius! Well done, death!"

Time: "Hooray, death!"

Death: "Thanks, guys."

Chance: "See, aren't you guys glad I convened this meeting?"

Time: "Shut up, Chance. "

Mutation: "Yeah, eat it, Chance."

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