Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Symbionts have feelings too

The Onion, one of the key sources of all things wise and accurate in science is reporting on a sad story all too common among symbionts. They report:
After three rainy seasons together, a black rhinoceros and a parasite-eating tickbird are beginning to suspect that their symbiotic relationship has fallen into a rut, the couple reported Sunday.
And furthermore
"The rhino and tickbird may have evolved physiologically to meet each other's needs, but it's clear they haven't evolved emotionally," the elephant said. "They need to recognize that in order to go forward. The rhino's loud snorting is very alienating. And obviously the tickbird is projecting her own feelings of inadequacy when she criticizes the rhino for being a typical Diceros bicornis."
In other words - mutualisms are not the simple "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" they are presented to be. Symbionts have feelings too."

PS - Thanks to Sourav Chatterji in my lab for pointing out the Onion story.

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