This is the story of the relationship between the Thynnid wasp and the hammer orchid of Australia. The female wasp has no wings and lives underground all of its life until it is time to mate. It then climbs a plant and releases its pheromone (a chemical that attracts male wasps) while it waits for a male wasp to come and carry it away as they mate.

The hammer orchid (Drakaea) produces a dummy female wasp on a stem attached to a hinge that will only bend one way—the only way that will allow the orchid to be pollinated. At just the right time the orchid releases the pheromone of the female wasp. Many times the male wasp is fooled by the dummy female on the orchid and tries to carry it away. In the process the male wasp is thrown backwards into the pollen of the orchid and pollen sticks to its back. When the wasp gives up and flies away the process is repeated at another orchid but this time when the wasp is thrown backward the pollen on its back pollinates that orchid. This apparently is the only way the hammer orchid can be pollinated. If this process does not work the hammer orchid will become extinct.

Look at all of the things that must be right. The hinge must not be too weak or too stiff. It must bend only one way. The stem from the hinge to the dummy female must be exactly the right length. The orchid must produce exactly the right complex chemical at exactly the right time. All of this is complicated and not something that a plant or a wasp could have intentionally developed. Could this have just happened by chance? Not a chance!

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