Monday, February 27, 2012

Evolution in our Time


symbiosis (ˌsɪmbɪˈəʊsɪs, ˌsɪmbaɪˈəʊsɪs)

— n
1. a close and usually obligatory association of two organisms of different species that live together, often to their mutual benefit

One of the most fascinating facets of the natural world is the arrangement known as symbiosis. This is when two completely different organisms evolve together in an arrangement that is mutually beneficial to both organisms.
One example of symbiosis is the teeth cleaning habit of the plover bird who hops into the mouth of the crocodile and picks bacteria out of it's teeth while the crocodile keeps its mouth open like a good boy in a dentists chair.
Another example is the way the clown fish is able to live inside the dangerous tentacles anemones without being effected by it's toxic shocks.
There are many other examples in the aquatic world of normally predatory fish coming to cleaning stations to get groomed by fish they would ordinarily eat.
We are not exactly sure why some species evolved to be independent and completely self sufficient while others need other species to come to arrangements with but that doesn't change the fact that the phenomena exists.

It's not every day that we get to witness the genesis of a symbiotic (if there's such a word) arrangement but apparently we are living in just such a time.
I am referring to the relationship between the walker and the tennis ball.
Apparently the walker evolved in an environment where there were many tennis balls floating around. And when it needed to glide on a smooth surface, instead of growing padded bottoms as you would expect, the bright yellow tennis ball hungry for some rubber bacteria perhaps, came along and latched onto the bottoms of the walkers thus creating the perfect symbiotic relationship. Or perhaps the tennis balls just missed their owners so much, those that lovingly took them out every sunday morning along with their white shorts but could no longer play due to old age or injury. Whatever the reason may be, this arrangement looks likes it's here to stay and we get to bear witness to the wonders of evolution first hand.
In a million years from now scientists will still be marveling at this unlikely pairing.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a crazy sense of humour.

February 27, 2012 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

I thought, boring scientific post. I did NOT see that coming. Is this an underhanded swipe at science?

February 28, 2012 9:31 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

I got to admit, I did not know where you were going with this until I saw the last picture!


February 28, 2012 10:23 AM  

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