The skunk cabbage is a uniquely designed plant. It generates enough heat to melt the snow around itself so that it can begin to grow and flower. Even if the air temperature drops as low as 10 degrees F, the skunk cabbage produces the heat it needs to maintain a temperature of between 72 and 74 F. However, if the temperature stays extremely low for more than 24 hours, the hooded flower exhausts its heating ability and the flower dies. The skunk cabbage then prepares more flowers and repeats the process.

This amazing plant also has a built-in thermostat. If the flower becomes too cold, more heat is summoned. If the flower becomes too warm, the heat is withdrawn. Because of its amazing abilities, the skunk cabbage is one of the first plants to break through the snow in early spring. Normally, honeybees are unable to fly in temperatures below 65 F. However, when the skunk cabbages are in bloom, honeybees can fly when temperatures drop as low as 45 F. Inside the flower's hood, the bees warm up enough to travel to the next cabbage flower. In cold weather the bees fly from one skunk cabbage to another, warming themselves as they travel back to their hive. Could this intricately designed flower be the result of random-chance mutational changes?

From A Closer Look at the Evidence by Kleiss, August 16.

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