The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Unlikely friendship in nature

The symbiotic relationships of animals

The cycle of nature is prey and predator, to be consumed or to consume, but sometimes the laws of nature are bent. Unlikely relationships can occur between animals of both predator and prey, and a symbiotic relationship is formed based on mutual benefit. A symbiotic relationship between animals is an association of two or more different biological species, where both parties benefit from the involved interactions. 

One unlikely pair are wolves and ravens. Usually, wolves are known to hunt in packs to corner their prey, consuming larger mammals such as deer, elk, bison and moose. Oftentimes, these packs will also hunt smaller prey such as birds, mice, foxes and fish. However, an unusual bond often forms in the wild between wolves and ravens, and  these animals have a deeper bond than simply just prey and predator.

Ravens are often associated as wolf birds by various cultures. Ravens are omnivores who can eat seeds and berries, as well as small mammals or leftover prey left from bigger predator species. Wolves and ravens will often follow each other due to the fact that ravens are very vocal. These birds can lead wolves to possible prey; relying on the wolves hunting skills and sharp fangs in order to rip through the tougher hide and fur of prey.

The ravens will feast on any prey left behind, while the wolves are led to free meals. Moreover, these two species are also very intelligent. Ravens are known to remember and imprint on specific wolves, and on occasion ravens and wolf pups are often found playing with each other, almost like a babysitter for the wolves.

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Another interesting symbiotic relationship is between sharks and remora fish. Unlike their media portrayed counterparts, sharks are much more intelligent than we think. These creatures even seek out social interactions with other species, like remora fish. Remora fish are tiny little fish that survive and thrive by attaching themselves to other aquatic animals.

The front dorsal fin works like a suction cup, located at the top of its head, in order to attach to sharks. The remora fish feed off scraps of prey dropped by sharks, while also cleaning and removing parasites located on the shark’s skin or near their mouths.

Sharks are smart enough to realize these tiny fish help keep them healthy, and are even observed in the wild to slow down in order for the nearby remoras to attach. Not only will sharks act as transportation to the smaller fish, but will protect these smaller fish from their natural predators. 

One final symbiotic relationship between predator and prey are the Nile crocodile and the Egyptian plover bird. Crocodiles are a large type of reptile that hunts and overpowers prey. Their teeth are sharp and strong in order to latch and hold onto prey while they swallow their prey whole.

As these large predators consume, bits of flesh and debris can get caught between their teeth, and if left to decay, the trapped debris can cause disease and infection in the crocodile’s mouth. This is where the Egyptian plover birds come into play: they are known to clean crocodile’s teeth.

Oftentimes crocodiles will sunbathe on the riverbanks without moving, with their jaws wide open. This encourages the plover bird to land and pick pieces of flesh out of its teeth. The plover gets a free meal while the crocodile’s teeth remain clean and healthy.

These amazing relationships can promote friendship between animals who would usually interact as predators and prey. This shows that nature is more than the cycle of life, but an amazing relationship between living organisms. 

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