Dry Desert Explodes in Color
One of the driest places on Earth has been storing its seeds underground for years for a moment like this.
The photos in this Live Science article are astonishing, considering where they were taken. The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on Earth; where did all this vibrant color come from?
Astrobiologists go to the Atacama Desert to study life at the extremes. Usually it is brown, barren and dusty. What happened?
The normally barren, almost Martian landscape of the Atacama Desert recently erupted in flowers, painting the hillsides, blue, fuschia, orange and yellow. The almost magical transformation occurred thanks to heavy rains earlier in the year, which watered flower seeds that had lain dormant for years.
In a companion piece on Live Science, Tia Ghose says this part of the world usually gets 0.6 inch a year of rain. It’s springtime in the southern hemisphere. This is the biggest bloom in 18 years, she says. Similar rare blooms occur in other deserts such as Death Valley.
Seeds can sometimes survive for decades waiting for the right conditions. How do they know? Moisture descending through a seed coat underground can leach out inhibitors to sprouting. There are also built-in clock controls to know the seasons, and other monitors such as for temperature. Some of these trigger cascades of enzymes that form networks with feedback loops, switching on genes that wake up the cells in the seedling and call them to action. How the various factors coordinate these changes is not well understood. One thing is for sure; the plants have it all figured out. Simultaneously, they sprout up and bloom while the conditions are good.
What a wonderful world! To see a dry, hot desert spring to life is amazing; what an illustration of the difference between Earth and Mars or the moon. You could shower Mars for years and never see something like this. Why? The required ingredient is complex, specified information. It’s been programmed into these seeds by a Mind that is not only super-intelligent but loves beauty.