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The best of a bad situation
  1. I R Schwab1,
  2. E J Warrant2
  1. 1University of California Davis, 4860 Y Street, Suite 2400, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA;
  2. 2University of Lund, Sweden

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    Evolution is a meandering process that works by chance, error, and success using unfathomable lengths of geological time to produce the astonishing adaptations we see on earth. But, evolution is not a conscious process that would design according to set principles of biology, physics, or mathematics. As creatures evolve to fill empty niches, the aimless process of evolution cannot simply revert to an older model or start from scratch, but must proceed with the tools currently at hand. Bees prove the test.

    Diurnal bees are principal pollinators for our robust and diverse angiosperm community (flowering plants). Although controversial, current evidence points to the emergence of the angiosperms in the late Jurassic or early Cretaceous periods, perhaps 150 million years ago. Since a food source rarely goes unexploited, these early flowering plants probably evolved in concert with their pollinators.

    Eventually some angiosperms became nocturnal, and, as that would provide an opportunity, their pollinators would have co-evolved into the night. So, the diurnal pollinators of the early angiosperms had vision that was adapted for the torrent of photons of full daylight. …

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