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The earth’s rain forests are amazing beyond belief.

In nature there is an interesting phenomenon called symbiosis. This refers to two different types of organisms living in close association. For example, as hummingbirds and bees drink nectar, the sweet sugary water from a flower, they become smeared with pollen. They then transfer the pollen from the male to the female part of the flower and fertilization occurs. This is a common example of symbiosis with which we are all familiar. Nowhere, however, can we find more strange and outlandish examples of symbiosis than in the Amazon rain forests.

Brazil-Nut Trees

You may have enjoyed cracking and eating the delicious hard-shelled Brazil nuts. These nuts grow inside a large pod on a tree in the rain forest. When they grow wild they produce an abundance of nuts however, on domesticated plantations they bear no nuts at all. The reason is the helpful little euglossine bees.

These bees pollinate the Brazil-nut trees, yet they live in other trees throughout the forest. The Brazil-nut tree is mutually assisted by these pollen-carrying bees and cannot reproduce without them. Likewise, the euglossine bee needs the nectar from the Brazil-nut flowers for food.

Yet another creature is needed by the Brazil-nut tree – a large rodent called an agouti. The agouti have sharp teeth which can crack the pod which hold the nuts. Agoutis often leave behind half-chewed and soggy nuts which will someday crow into new trees. People have attempted to copy this softening method, but only an agouti can do it!

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