One of the most interesting situations in nature is that in which two
enemies tolerate each other, bringing benefits to both of them. In National Wildlife magazine
(April/May 2008, page 18) is a story about two enemies “that seem to
have an agreement” not to damage each other. This is an example of what
is called a mutualism relationship, a situation where two animals
benefit each other and protect each other.
The two animals are a tarantula and narrow-mouthed toad. Normally
tarantulas eat toads, but in this case the toad will move into the
tarantula’s humid burrow which is ideal for the toad. Any animal that
would eat the toad will not invade the burrow, because the tarantula
will attack it. What the toad does for the tarantula is to eat the ants
and other pests that will eat the tarantula’s eggs. When researchers
offered other species of toads to the tarantulas, they ate them. In the
middle of such offerings, when a narrow mouth toad was offered it was
Another example in fresh water lakes is the relationship between a
minnow called a golden shiner and a bowfin or dogfish. The bowfin feeds
on this minnow normally, but during the spawning season the minnows
seem to have immunity from bowfin attacks. The bowfin builds a nest and
the minnows dart in and out of the nest, providing oxygen and keeping
bacteria out. The minnows lay their own eggs in the nests of the bowfin
and not only do not have to go to the trouble of building the nest, but
have a built-in protector to keep the eggs from being eaten by
predators. There are as many as 35 minnow species that have similar
associations with their predators.
The question is how such mutualism develops. It seems as though the
animals involved think through what will be to their advantage and
avoid normal food patterns, but no one believes that to be the case.
Instead there seems to be a genetically programmed response that is
highly sophisticated so that it works at certain times of the year with
certain species. We would suggest that an Intelligence has created a
beautifully designed system of mutualism which promotes the development
and diversification of life. That Intelligence is God.
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Does God Exist?, NovDec09.