Here are some of the sciency things I observed around me while I was in Costa Rica:
This is a photo of two hibiscus flowers. Aren't they beautiful???
Ah, yes - - - but did you know they contain the reproductive organs of the hibiscus plant? Well of COURSE you knew that - - - just like you knew that EVERY flower is all about "Sex in the Garden." And if you FORGOT - - - you may go read my post about it here.
But back to these lovely hibiscus blossoms. Their reproductive organ arrangement is a bit unusual. Do you see all those yellow fuzzy things? Well - - - those are the anthers which produce the male gametes. (sperm if you need me to spell it all out) But unlike in a typical flower, these little anthers are at the end of filaments which are growing out of a staminal column.
Then look closely at the end of the staminal column and you will see five tiny red discs - - - they remind me of alien suction feet. These are the stigmas, the sticky ends of the female reproductive organ, which in this case is extending out from the hollow staminal column.
The stigmas are there just WAITING to collect the pollen. Once the pollen has collected on them, it will begin to grow pollen tubes down through the long slender neck (style) of the female organ (pistil) all the way to the ovary where the eggs are waiting to be fertilized and form seeds.
Aren't you glad you asked?????
I thought it was extremely fascinating, and I'm SO glad my little digi cam captured the whole exciting process. I guess I'm just a voyeur that way.
I DO hope you will be able to enjoy your flower bouquets after this.
And here we have another "unusual" blossom. Let me rephrase. A blossom that is not seen in the temperate midwest, though I saw TONS of them in the tropics.
They do NOT however develop into the bananas you see here. These are two different plants growing side by side. The bananas ARE the ripend ovary of the banana plant, however - - - containing the seeds.
Please, don't hesitate to enjoy your next banana - - - even though you WILL be eating the offspring of some poor banana mom and dad.
Oh - - - and what have we here? Why, it's a lovely walking stick. Notice the three pairs of legs, making it an insect. I won't go into its reproductive habits here - - - maybe we'll save that for another biological post.
But while we're at it, don't you just HATE it when folks refer to spiders as insects? Yah, me too - - - we ALL know they have 4 pairs of legs, just like scorpions, ticks, and mites so are therefore arachnids and not insects at all.
I took this photo at Fossil Land , which explains WHY it's called Fossil Land, don't'cha think? Just LOOK at all those shell fossils.
Here's a close up of a smaller fossil filled piece of limestone. Makes it pretty clear that this part of the world was once under water.
And what have we here? You might think it's JUST an old stone wall, and that it is - - - but not JUST an old stone wall. Look at it closely and you will see a splendid example of primary succession.
Do you see all the lichen and moss growing on the rocks and in the cracks between the rocks? Those are what we call "pioneer species." Their little root-like structures are busy at work, breaking the rock down into small pieces of sediment.
The cracks between the rock trap these pieces of sediment, and others. Soil begins to form and soon (well - - - relatively speaking) there is enough soil to support the roots of larger more organized forms of plant life.
And where plants move in - - - animals soon follow.
Here's a close-up of Ms. Lichen. Isn't she beautiful? And you can see the new soil in the crevices and even the tip of one small plant.
Maybe when I return in a couple thousand years, the wall will be gone and in its place will be a mound of plant covered soil.
Or maybe it will take ten thousand years or more.