Originally Posted by Trine
But I was wondering, since (I presume) plant life has existed for the same period of time in the same conditions and environment as animals/humans, why have they not developed an intelligence on par with animals or even humans? Even the lowliest of animal and insect life seem to have ways of communicating. Plants do not (to my knowledge).
Have their genes decided that they have fulfilled their purpose and are happy just to "be", never evolving further? I would have guessed that evolution is a never ending continuous process.
Given another few billion years, would be it conceivable for plant life to begin evolving a similar "intelligence" that we associate with animals and humans (communication, awareness of oneself etc.)?
Plants are very intelligent. They can't do crosswords, but that wouldn't be of much use to them if they could; they do however adapt, sense, have behaviours and in a way even remember things.
As for their evolution, evolution doesn't have an end goal. Genes can't look at a brain and say "we should try to make one of those". Plants are certainly still evolving, just as we are, so yes, evolution is a never ending continuous process.
Given enough time, plants could certainly evolve a similar intelligence to what you have in mind, they could evolve just about any characteristics given enough time, but it's highly unlikely they would, as their needs are very different to ours.
Don't underestimate them! Plants are extremely diverse and have adapted to far more environments than humans, and they do it all without iPhones
If you can get access to it, have a look at "Secret life of plants: From memory to intelligence" in the journal Plant Signalling and Behaviour, by Karpinski and Szechynska-Hebda.