(Minghui.org) A paper published in the journal Science on September 17, 2021 found that instead of gradually evolving into more complicated species, land plants experienced two sudden explosions of complexity, with an interval of 250 million years.

Andrew Leslie, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of geological sciences at Stanford University’s School of Earth Sciences, stated, “The most surprising thing is this kind of stasis, this plateau in complexity after the initial evolution of seeds and then the total change that happened when flowering plants started diversifying.”

Researchers describe that in the early Devonian period, about 420 to 360 million years ago, plants on land experienced the first wave of prosperity when there were no vertebrates. After the Devonian, the types of animals suddenly increased, and larger animals began to appear. However, the development of plants stagnated during this period.

Leslie noted, “Insect pollination and animal seed dispersal may have appeared as early as 300 million years ago, but it’s not until the last 100 million years that these really intricate interactions with pollinators are driving this super high complexity in flowering plants. There was such a long period of time where plants could have interacted with insects in the way that flowering plants do now, but they didn’t to the same degree of intricacy.”

Leslie’s latest research about the sudden gain of complexity in plants, just like the Cambrian explosion of species, can’t be explained by the theory of evolution, which hypothesized that species on Earth gradually evolved from simple organisms into more complicated forms. 

Flowering plants, in particular, are the most complex group of plants. All along, it has been difficult for scientists to study the evolution of flowering plants compared to simpler plants such as ferns and conifers. For a long time, botanists have focused their efforts on studying the evolution of non-flowering plants. It largely remains a mystery to scientists how the diversification of flowers came into being.

One of the biggest challenges for scientists in studying evolution was the lack of fossil evidence. Instead of finding abundant transitional species as the evolution theory predicted, most of the fossil records point to a different path, in which species experienced cycles of long periods of stagnation, followed by sudden simultaneous appearance and then sudden extinction.

Even for experts on evolution, the explanations of human origins based on the theory of evolution aren’t consistent with the fossil record, according to a review published in Science on May 7, 2021. 

“When you look at the narrative for hominin origins, it’s just a big mess—there’s no consensus whatsoever. People are working under completely different paradigms, and that’s something that I don’t see happening in other fields of science,” said Sergio Almécija, a senior research scientist in the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Anthropology and the lead author of the Science paper.