The vegetation in any area on earth is dynamic, not static. It changes as the climate changes and as other factors that we do not understand change. Why, knowing the dynamic nature of vegetation, would one expect an abundance of geophytes so long ago?
MAREAN REPLIES: The presence of a geophyte plant part is often associated with an adaptation to hot, dry summers and arid climates, and that is the case for most of the geophytes in the Cape region, because the heartland of the Cape is dominated by winter rainfall. The entire Cape, including the fynbos and the interior Karoo, are superrich in geophyte diversity. Using other proxies such as large mammal fauna, micromammals and speleothems, we can confidently state that throughout the past 200,000 years the climates of the Cape were favorable to geophytes, even during maximum glacial conditions. In fact, the Cape was probably drier during glacials, and thus geophytes were even more favored than they are today.
Science and Fiction
Michael Shermer’s “Our Neandertal Brethren” [Skeptic] ends with, “Now that is a tale worthy of a romantic novel, brought to you by science.” I believe this is exactly the plot of Jean M. Auel’s 1980 novel Clan of the Cave Bear. Once again, science follows science fiction.
Faith and Foolishness
Thanks to Lawrence M. Krauss for writing “Faith and Foolishness” [Critical Mass] and thanks to the editors of Scientific American for publishing it. Many of us who agree wholeheartedly with what Krauss has to say are all too familiar with the wrath visited on nonbelievers by those who proclaim themselves believers in a religion of peace and love.
Krauss should be advised that most Americans who would describe themselves as Christian do not literally believe the world was created in six days a mere 6,000 years ago. Nor do any of the major Christian religions require their members to believe such a literal interpretation of the story of the origin of the world found in the Old Testament. Krauss’s commentary seems more an attack on some religions than an attack on ignorance.