Attention, the flowers have ears!



The Abominable Mystery of Flowers

Thursday May 19 at 9 p.m. on France 5

Do you know that flower petals, those concave parabolas, work like real ears? They pick up the vibrations of the buzzing of insects and modulate their nectar emissions accordingly in order to attract these pollinators. This is one of the recent scientific discoveries revealed by François Tribolet’s documentary, co-written with Clément Champiat. Its title is borrowed from Charles Darwin. Disturbed by the sudden appearance, in fossils about 100 million years old, of a great variety of flowers hitherto unknown, he wrote: “The rapid development of flowering plants is an abominable mystery. »“Abominable”, because it seemed to contradict his precious theory of evolution according to which the diversification of species takes place slowly by successive genetic mutations. Now, in front of the camera, researchers from all over the world, paleontologists, geneticists, biologists, tell how they solved this enigma step by step.

The film freely inspired by The Secret History of Flowers (1), by François Parcy, research director at the CNRS, makes us discover the fabulous assets of angiosperms, these plants endowed with a male and female reproductive system, unlike the conifers which they massively replaced after the 5and extinction. He recounts their weapons of massive seduction deployed to attract insects, like this blue obtained by iridescence or this heat and this smell of decomposition emitted by the titan arum. The documentary also takes us to the top of the Alps or to a desert in South Africa, where flowers grow against all odds. And he gradually goes back up the chain of evolution, thanks to a prehistoric plant and genetic analyzes which show that flowers appeared on Earth in reality twice as early as Darwin believed: 214 million people ago. ‘years.

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