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The Creation Explanation

Creation Explanation Intelligent, Purposeful Design in Nature


The dirty fish that blushes. The blushing fish of tropical seas provide a striking example of symbiosis (living together). Symbiosis is the term for a relationship between two species which is beneficial to one, the other, or both of them.

A certain species of tropical fish, the yellow-tailed goat fish, mostly white in color, swims in small schools. In common with most of the scaled fish, this species is bothered by infestations of parasites in the scales and gills, and from time to time the fish need a cleaning job. When one of the fish needs such a cleaning, the small school swims over to a coral reef where little black and yellow French angel fish have set up a neighborhood fish washing station. When the dirty fish blushes a bright rust-red color, the little cleaner fish knows that the blushing fish wants a wash, not a fish dinner. He darts out, gives the blushing goat fish a good cleaning, and then darts back into the safety of the coral. The blushing fish stops blushing and the school swims off.19

Several dozen such cleaner relationships have been observed in tropical waters, involving a number of different species of small cleaner fish as well as various species of tiny, beautifully decorated cleaner shrimp. Under other circumstances the cleaners are often eaten by the larger fish, so it is only after the proper signal is given that they will leave their protective lairs to venture out on cleaning missions. The signals used by various species of dirty fish, in addition to color change, include the adoption of an attitude of rest with gills and fins flared, or a vertical position in the water with head up and fins flapping.

One researcher removed the cleaner shrimp from two coral heads and found that within two weeks there were fewer fish at these coral heads than at the others in the area. The fish present often showed frayed fins and ulcerated sores. This strongly suggests that the cleaner relationships are essential for the larger fish and constitute an integral feature of the community life of the coral reef. The idea that such symbiotic arrangements could be evolved and not designed stretches the evolutionary imagination to the breaking point. Does not the evidence lead one to believe that these creatures were designed and created to help one another?

Ants in the plants. Another marvelous example of symbiosis is afforded by the myrmecophytes, plants which are inhabited by ants. The South American Bull's head acacia serves as the home of a species of fierce ants which are nourished by certain parts of the tree. In exchange, the ants protect the tree from all intruders, be they insects, birds, or foraging animals. But even more amazing, these ants nip off and prune back any encroaching vines, bushes, or other plants, thus maintaining ample growth space for their home tree. If the ants are removed from the tree, within two to fifteen months the tree is defoliated, overrun by neighboring plants, and it perishes.20 Did anybody teach these ants to be gardeners?



19. Roessler, Carl and Jankees Post, Natural History, Vol. 81, May 1972, pp. 30-37.

20. Odum, Eugene P., Fundamentals of Ecology, 3rd Edition (W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1971), pp. 273-274; Janzen, Daniel H., Science, Vol. 188, 30 May 1975, pp. 936-937.

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