Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The mysterious avocado

Sometimes I listen to the radio in my car, and there is an advert that Chipolte is running that I really don't much care for. The spot in question poses questions about the supposedly mysterious avocado. But is it really that mysterious?

Chipolte asks:
The humble avocado. Wrinkly on the outside, yet tasty on the inside. Why is it that way?
Um, to be appealing to the creatures that originally evolved alongside the avocado. They would eat from the plant, and distribute the seeds. Just like every other fruit-bearing plant.
Are you a fruit or vegetable?
It's a fruit. The botanical definition of a fruit is the area of a plant that develops from the flower and contains the seeds. That definition includes the avocado, so it is a fruit.
We don't know why mother nature made you how she did, but we salute her.
Yeah, we actually kinda do... The avocado's creation was driven by evolution. We also know that it is a holdover from another time. You know that giant pit in the middle of an avocado? That's where the seed is. An animal is supposed to eat the fruit, pit and all (just like when a bird eats a mulberry). Later on, the pit/seed is passed by the animal. Then, a new avocado tree would possibly grow where is was deposited.

The avocado co-evolved alongside the mammoth and the giant sloth. These large mammals would eat the avocado whole, and later pass the pit with the seed. In fact, several fruits actually guard their seeds in a hard shell to protect them from being chewed on and eaten, but still be viable when they
The giant sloth would probably love guacamole.
are later 'plated' by the animal that ate it. I know that when I started my Ginkgos from seed, I had to scrape the hard seeds with a knife to help promote their chances of growing.

So avocado evolved to be eaten by a giant sloth or mammoth. That's why the seed is so big. It tastes good, because the tree needs to animal to take and distribute the seeds. But now those creatures are gone... Lucky for the avocado that we found them tasty though. We can't eat the seed, but we can plant them and grow them. If it weren't for human intervention, the avocado may have died out eventually.

You see, the avocado isn't really a mystery at all. It's a product of evolution that survives to this day.

-Brain Hulk

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