Sunday, October 27, 2013

What big thorns you have.

Have you ever noticed the thorns on a honey locust and thought to yourself 'what's goin' on with those big daggum thorns?'  Honey locust evolved along side the Pleistocene megafauna.  Extinct animals such as woolly mammoths, mastodons, and giant sloths used to roam North America, and likely fed on the seeds of honey locusts and water locusts.  
These trees depend upon large mammals eating their seeds and passing them through their gastrointestinal tract out as a way of dispersal.  But inviting a 5-ton animal to dinner can be dangerous, thus the reason for thorns that can be 8-inches long.  The prehistoric mammal gets a meal, the tree's seeds are spread, and the thorns keep the dinner guest far enough away from the tree so it can survive to make another crop of seeds next season.

Next time you see a honey locust just imagine, one of it's ancestors probably grew because a woolly mammoth pooped it out somewhere.

Honey locust thorns, they'll take your eye out.