One of the most interesting design features that we see in the world around us are the enormous number of symbiotic relationships that exist in nature. A symbiotic relationship is one in which two unrelated species live in such a way that both are benefitted by the relationship. In many cases both species would become extinct very quickly if the relationship did not exist. A good example of this is the symbiotic relationship between the bullhorn acacia plant of Central America and Mexico and a species of ant that lives in the horns of this plant.

The bullhorn acacia is a tree that has paired horns along its stems and trunk that are pointed at the ends. The ants hollow out these horns and live in them. If any animal disturbs the tree, the ants will swarm out and sting the intruder. In addition to that, if other plants sprout near the tree they will nip off the sprout so that no plant species competes with the bullhorn for nutrients or water. The ants take very good care of this tree.

The tree has sugar producing nectar glands and protein-rich growths on the tips of its leaflets. This secretion nourishes the ants, so the tree not only provides a place for the ants to live, but feeds them as well. This food would not be useful to most animals and insects, but it is perfect for this particular species of ants. This is a classic example of symbiosis in which the two unrelated life forms are so dependent upon each other that neither would survive for long without the other.

Constructing a theory of how such relationships come about usually involves suggesting that the two forms were occasionally in contact with each other, and gradually became dependent upon each other. Suggesting that the perfect food the bullhorn makes for the ant was different in the past requires some unlikely major chemical manipulation and is unsupported by fossil evidence. The behavior of the ants that involves cutting off any plant that would compete with the bullhorn so it cannot grow makes assumptions about the ability of the ant to develop a rather advanced concept of agriculture. We would suggest that this as well as other symbiotic relationships that exist are a part of the design that we see in the world around us. Design that speaks of the creator that has provided for us in amazingly complex ways.

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