Guardians Of The Galaxy made a splash at the box office this past weekend, and most people walking out of the theater likely had one question on their minds: Why had it taken Hollywood so long to make a movie featuring a foul-mouthed space raccoon and how soon would it be before we could see more of them? A smaller contingent may have been thinking about Groot, the walking, sort-of-talking tree man voiced by Vin Diesel, and wondering whether such a creature could evolve from common, everyday plant life right here on Earth. And, indeed, that query is the topic of an absorbing essay over at io9.
Written by Esther Inglis-Arkell, who may have been an evolutionary botanist before getting this whole Internet writing gig, the article considers in great detail which Earthbound flora could most readily evolve into something like Groot. Does his ability to produce winged seed cases mean he’s descended from the sycamore maple? Do his hardiness and ability to rapidly grow his own appendages suggest he’s an descendant of the kudzu vine? Botanists and non-botanists who have five minutes to kill alike are invited to read on and let their minds wander to the edge of imagination, to a place where a puff of pollen floating by on the wind could one day evolve into a sentient being portrayed by Vin Diesel. [via io9]