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In order to deal with giraffes, acacia trees come up with tricks

Giraffe sees tricks and tricks

By Carlo PhilPublished 8 months ago 4 min read

In beautiful nature, there is a cold law: if a species cannot adapt to the complex and changeable natural environment in time, then it will be ruthlessly eliminated.

This law is an external factor in the evolution of many species on the earth. For example, to avoid being eaten by animals, plants will evolve various defense mechanisms, and animals that eat plants will survive and reproduce. It must co-evolve with plants to crack the plant's defenses.

The acacia tree and the giraffe are typical examples. On the one hand, dealing with the giraffe, the acacia tree can be said to be one after another. It is amazing. On the road of evolution, the acacia tree and the giraffe come and go, and a fight is a million years.

The acacia tree is a common plant in the African grassland. On the long evolutionary road, the acacia tree only used the trick of "growing taller" to make most herbivores "look at the tree and sigh", but this trick doesn't work for giraffes, because they have evolved to be tall enough to even become the tallest animals on earth.

Acacia trees have also evolved a "long thorn" defense strategy. Their branches are covered with sharp thorns, which can generally reach more than 10 centimetres in length, but this is still ineffective for giraffes because they have evolved A long, flexible tongue.

The length of the giraffe's tongue can reach more than 40 centimetres. Usually, they only need to use their flexible tongue to avoid the hard thorns of the acacia tree, and then gently roll it to eat the leaves.

In addition to physical defense, the acacia tree has evolved a chemical-based trick by secreting a chemical called "tannin" in its leaves, which is toxic to animals, at least it will make the animal dizzy and may make the animal die.

However, this trick is still ineffective for giraffes. There are two main reasons. One reason is that giraffes have evolved a certain degree of resistance to "tannin" in the process of eating acacia trees for a long time.

Another reason is that the acacia tree cannot keep the concentration of "tannin" in the leaves at a high level. The time difference and the witty giraffes are aware of this, and they will use the "time difference" to nibble back and forth between multiple acacia trees, to avoid eating leaves with high "tannin" concentration.

For example, there are three acacia trees, named "A", "B", and "C". When the giraffe eats the leaves of "A", if they eat the leaves, they feel that the taste is not right (the concentration of "tannin" increases ), they will stop gnawing and eat "B" instead, and when the leaves of "B" taste wrong, they will eat "C" again, and when they eat the leaves of "C", the taste is not right. At that time, the concentration of "tannin" in the leaves of "A" has dropped, and they can come back and continue to eat the leaves of "A".

Acacia tree

In rood with the giraffe's "eating back and forth", the acacia tree has evolved a strange trick: when an acacia tree is being eaten, it not only greatly increases the "tannin" concentration in its leaves, it will also release an ethylene pheromone, and after the acacia tree near it feels this pheromone, it will also greatly increase the concentration of "tannin" in its leaves so that it can achieve the relationship between the tree and the tree. The effect of "watching and helping each other".

However, giraffes can still see tricks, because they have learned to nibble on the next acacia tree in the direction of the upwind. After all, the pheromone released needs to be transmitted through the air, which means that in the direction of the upwind The acacia tree cannot receive notifications from "companions" in time.

It is worth mentioning that there is a kind of "whistle-thorn acacia tree" at the lower end of the hard thorns, which has also evolved a hollow sphere structure, which also secretes honey juice, which attracts a large number of ants to live in it.

When the "spinning acacia tree" is eaten by animals, these ants living on the tree will regard it as a threat and attack it violently, and some ants will even spray with a strong corrosive effect The formic acid makes the "eaters" miserable.

However, for giraffes, this trick is not very useful, because there is a time difference between "the ants are alerted" and "the ants launch a violent attack". After suffering many times, the smart giraffes have already Learned to take advantage of this time difference, and generally speaking, they will leave calmly before the ant's attack.


To describe it more vividly, the above uses some anthropomorphic sayings. From the perspective of us human beings, "acacia trees come out one after another, and giraffes dismantle their tricks" is very interesting, but in essence, Acacia trees and giraffes come and go, which is a cruel survival game between these two species, the result of their co-evolution over millions of years.

Well, today we will talk about it here first, welcome everyone to pay attention to us, and see you next time.


About the Creator

Carlo Phil

Science and art are two sides of a coin

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