Archive for the ‘Plant’ Category

How do carrots get their shape?

May 23, 2009

As I was peeling a carrot today it occurred to me, “How do carrots get their shape – thick at the top and then tapering off?” Does anyone know how carrots get their shape?

An animal’s efficiency in converting food into biomass is around 10%

January 12, 2008

Every time that an animal eats a plant or another animal, the conversion of food biomass into the consumer’s biomass involves an efficiency of much less than 100%: typically about 10%.  That is, it takes around 10,000 pounds of corn to grow a 1,000 pound cow.  If instead you want to grow 1,000 pound of carnivore, you have to feed it 10,000 pounds of herbivore grown on 100,000 pounds of corn.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

“There is really nothing else so odd about life as its variety”

August 1, 2007

“There is really nothing else so odd about life as its variety.  Consider the grasses of a pasture.  A dozen kinds of grass and other plants will live all mixed up together in an old pasture.  I once found five or six kinds of grass in a square yard or so of one of the manicured lawns of Cambridge.  But why should there be so many kinds of grass in a pasture or lawn?  Why is there not one perfect kind of pasture plant, ideally suited to the circumstance of pasture life, perfectly efficient at getting a living in that grazed or mowed-down space?”

“Animals live in a pasture too, and in even greater array than the plants, particularly the insects, which are present in dozens of oddly different shapes.  Why so many?  Why not one perfect grass-processing, pasture insect, together perhaps with its perfectly adapted predator?”

— Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare by Paul Colinvaux