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Nature's Top Ten Inventions
Alex Steffen, 16 May 05

Here's a fun little tonic for restoring your awe of nature -- Life's top 10 greatest inventions, from the eye, the brain and language, to sex, death and symbiosis:

Symbiosis has many definitions, but we'll take it to mean two species engaging in physically intimate, mutually beneficial dependency, almost invariably involving food. Symbiosis has triggered seismic shifts in evolution, and evolution in turn continually spawns new symbiotic relationships. ...

Symbiosis has popped up so frequently during evolution that it is safe to say it's the rule, not the exception. Angler fish in the deep ocean host bioluminescent bacteria in appendages that dangle over their mouths. Smaller fish lured by the light are easy prey. At the ocean surface, coral polyps provide homes for photosynthetic algae, and swap inorganic waste products for organic carbon compounds - one reason why nutrient-poor tropical waters can support so much life. The algae also produce a chemical that absorbs ultraviolet light and protects the coral. More than 90 per cent of plant species are thought to engage in symbiotic couplings.

(via IDFuel)

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