Which came first, the seed or the tree?


Which came first the chicken or the egg? A common question that gets asked. A less common question but equally interesting is which came first the seed or the tree? While there are many theories of chickens, eggs, seeds and trees and how they all came about the answer is actually rather simple. Evolution.

Chickens were not always chickens and seeds were not always seeds. The first chicken evolved from something else that was chicken-like. And the first seed came from a tree that didn’t use seeds to create new life.

Without going into too much detail on evolution, it simply states that the stronger of something will survive. Man has evolved to be as we are today because that is what we needed to survive. Seeds follow a similar path.

Scientists believe that trees started to use seeds somewhere between 385 million years ago and 360 million years ago. Before seeds came into existence plants would create life in other ways. Before the great seed revolution of 370 million years ago plants used spores. Spores are a far more simple genetic make up that is a single cell. In order to create a new plant life, it has to mix with another single cell ( called gametophyte) to become a plant. 

Clearly, this is more difficult to do and seeds started to slowly take over from spores in the majority of plant life. Spores do still exist today, especially in wet conditions where it is easier to find a second gametophyte. However, seeds are clearly in the majority of plant life today simply because they have a greater chance of survival. 

As the famous term states, the survival of the fittest. To give seeds their due respect, they are pretty fit. Seeds come in a number of varieties although there are two main types; angiosperms and gymnosperms. Angiosperms have the seed inside the fruit or plant, like a tomato or an apple. While gymnosperms are much different and protect their seed inside a hard cone, such as many trees.
Seeds are genetically better as they can do all the work on their own, they don’t need a buddy system. Not only that but they are strong and usually protected by some outer material meaning they tend to survive more often than a spore (often found on the bottom of a leaf).

All in all, seeds serve as a good lesson on the power of evolution and a gentle reminder of the power of nature that always surrounds us.