Saturday, 12 January 2019

field notes

Though the verdict is still out on whether plants can vocalise, it seems that a research team has demonstrated that flowers act as ears and can distinguish the buzz of an approaching pollinator over the general din and sweeten its nectar. The less conclusive part of the study looked into whether plants communicated distress or well-being at ranges above what humans can hear and how this might be interpreted by arboreal creatures and insects.
Humans are being humbled all the time and we have far more empathy for the natural world and our place in than we did in the past—even a decade ago, most regarded animals as having no interior lives or feelings, but as the latter smacks a bit of the pseudoscientific methods that probably set back our collective willingness to examine and consider plant communications, it’s probably a bit of a treacherous claim that we are not quite ready for. For better or worse, regardless of the veracity and rigour, sometimes we are just not receptive to ideas that can change our world view, like the parable of Clever Hans, a stunt that set back the cause of animal rights significantly but no we not only know that bees can do simple arithmetic but that plants do communicate to and socialise with their neighbours through chemical signals and via a complex and poorly understood network that connects whole forests through their roots.