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Friday, October 8, 2010

The ant, the elephant, the tree and the fungi


By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

When I heard this story about the ant, the tree, the elephant and the fungi I came to think about the choices we make in relationships.

Once there was a savannah tree in Africa. It was always safe despite the prevalence of elephants that loved to eat trees, felling one after another, but always leaving the savannah alone. This is a true story from Live Science. A lot of savannah trees are avoided by elephants because if they eat the tree the ants that live in the tree and enjoy the tree’s nectar will crawl on the elephant’s eyes and inner gums and bite like crazy.
Now the fungi cometh.

One there was an ant on a tree in Thailand. It seemed to be drawn to a fungi and felt compelled to eat it. For real--I got this from Scientific American. The fungi (in the photo above, letter "P") made the ant into a zombie, inhabiting its brain and using its body to go exactly where the fungi needed to be--on a leaf that had up to 95 percent humidity with temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. Once there the fungi would always emerge from the exact same part of the ant’s body--the back of its head, so it could multiply.

You wonder sometimes if horror stories are made by natural scientists.

Now, I am not elephantophobic, I love elephants and know they have their role in the food chain. I am not fungiophobic although I don’t know what good it does. Everything in due time finds its heroism, I like to think.

But think of the choices we make. Marry the right guy and you lead a long sweet life of good quality, like the ant and the savannah tree. Marry the wrong guy and you can be controlled, your spirit killed and your body slowly expiring. I am so glad I never married a fungi.

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