Charles Darwin, 1859
The EVOLUTIONARY lines for this tree begin with requiring sunshine and CO2, in the presence of H2O (water). Single-cell plant-like structures were first to develop. From that humble beginning, an amazingly prolific progression has followed.
Biologists estimate that there are about 5 to 100 million species of organisms living on Earth today (With such a range in the estimation, it doesn't seem as though anybody has bothered to count). Evidence from morphological, biochemical, and gene sequence data suggests that all organisms on Earth are genetically related, and the genealogical relationships of living things can be represented, as Darwin suggested, by a vast evolutionary tree, the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life then represents the phylogeny of organisms, i. e., the history of organismal lineages as they have changed through time. It suggests that different species have arisen from previous forms via descent, and that all organisms, from the smallest microbe to the largest plants and vertebrates, are connected by the passage of genes along the branches of the phylogenetic "tree" that links all of Life. This productive tree (in the first instance) began with plants. Hmmm... Well, then, let us give them the respect they deserve: plants make their own dinner. Such is the wonder of photosynthesis. Sunshine + CO2 = dinner. Pretty amazing stuff if you think about it. Since we MUST have dinner supplied from organisms (plants or animals) that "SACRIFICE" (die), it had to be necessary for SOMETHING to produce their own dinner for all of this to get started.
All organisms (plants & humans alike) use ATP as their major form of cellular energy. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) A common form in which energy is stored in living systems; consists of a nucleotide (with ribose sugar) with three phosphate groups (phosphorus). The energy coin of the cell. So you can see that phosphate just might be an important chemical for organisms that are using a lot of energy (whether tomatoes or you), and indeed that's the way it turns out. Processes that are energy intensive (like blooming or growth) will need more phosphorus.
In a process called photosynthesis, plants use energy from the sun to change carbon dioxide (CO2 - carbon and oxygen) and water (H2O- hydrogen and oxygen) into starches and sugars. These starches and sugars are the plant's food. Photosynthesis means "making things with light".
Plants use Nitrogen to make amino acids. Amino acids are put together in chains to form proteins. Proteins make up most of the structures both in our bodies as well as in plant cells. (In other words, you and I are a massive collection of proteins. I realize that sounds rather impersonal, but it's technically true.)
Those proteins form both chlorophyll (where plants produce all their food) and mitochondria (where plants turn that food into energy). Chlorophyll is green, so more nitrogen = more chlorophyll = greener plants (to a point). Also, more nitrogen = more mitochondria = more energy production. Now, the only way we get nitrogen to make all the protein in our bodies is by either eating plants, or eating animals that ate plants (as mentioned above, a SACRIFICE is necessary). But, getting nitrogen out of the ground is really a trick, and humans "haven't learned it". If you are curious about it, check out this link for more info.: http://www.ncagr.com/cyber/kidswrld/plant/nutrient.htm
Minerals and elements enter the plant system as a dissolved part of the available water. In larger plant species, transpirational pull from the stomatal openings create the 'suction' through the xylem vessel system from the leaves all the way down to the root hairs. Absolutely no energy is exerted by the plant during this process, an amazing thing when you know that a mature deciduous tree with its root/soil system in tact, will take up about a ton of water per day in this process of transpiration.
There are many questions yet to be answered about the developments of species and how they have managed to survive and flourish over the course of millions of years. However, setting aside other discussions, I should like to advance an EVOLUTIONARY prospective for you to consider; another means for, perhaps, better understanding some of the why and how of evolution in general, and animal evolution in particular. Thinking about "structures" that have served well to permit evolutionary survival, the following might be additionally considered:
Many animals (perhaps even most of them), and some plants as well, possess "brains" (or control centers) as well as inherited sensory and "thought processes" which quite essentially and effectively perceive and sense NOW conditions [NOW SENSE]. Cats and dogs, for example, have inherited quite distinctive NOW capabilities: scent detections, touch sense, hearing sense, eyesight and AWARENESS/NOTICING proclivities which have protected them and allowed their success at evolutionary survival. Several of these are remarkably well developed.
Humans, apes, dolphins and (as we've seen recently, perhaps) elephants have, in addition to NOW thought/sense processes, some of which are certainly not as finely tuned as are those of dogs and cats, are nevertheless quite adequate because they are in complement with yet another "tier" of developed sensitivity. And what are they in complement with? Humans, apes, dolphins and elephants have additionally evolved thought/sense processes which can be called THEN SENSE. Thus, their ability with thinking: IF/THEN, FUTURE/THEN, PAST/THEN and HYPOTHETICAL/THEN are primary reasons for, and have resulted in and promoted, considerable sharpening and development of language, emotions, cautions, prediction abilities, memory abilities and abstract thinking. THEN SENSE, like NOW SENSE, is similarly a development which has served to enhance evolutionary survival.*
I should like to explore these distinctions and concepts further, and invite your thoughts on the matter. I do believe they have significant value in understanding how various species have succeeded over time. And I offer this as something of a base concept for ideas which "ask for" more exploration and research. But, I also offer it to put into perspective what can be lost if we disregard THE WARNINGS ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING. Evolution depends upon the success of the environment.
*Shouldn't we use our THEN SENSE to correct what we know about GLOBAL WARMING? If not, . . . you know the answer.*