Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ants, Trees, Big Mammals and Mutualism!

"This ain't 'jes another funny animal comic book!

Heck no!

Beanworld is different.

It's a weird fantasy dimension that operates under its own rules and laws.
Beanworld is about the affinity of life.

All the characters, whether they are friends or adversaries,
understand that ultimately they depend on each other for survival.

It's not just a place, it's a process!"

That bit of prose is in every issue of Tales of the Beanworld starting with #1 in 1985.

I've always been fascinated by the theory of "mutual aid" and the phenomenon that scientists call "mutualism." Beanworld's basic premises are deeply rooted in these ideas.

So I was delighted to find the following story in today's LA Times. I found it a great read from a Beanworld-ish point of view and thought I'd share it with you.
"For thousands of years, thorny African acacia trees have provided food and shelter to aggressive biting ants, which protected the trees by attacking animals that try to eat the
acacia leaves. Called mutualism, it's a good deal for the trees and the ants.

Scientists studying the decline in large animals in Africa wondered what would happen if the animals no longer were eating the leaves. So they fenced off some of the acacias from elephants, giraffes and other animals.After a few years, the fenced-in trees began looking sickly and grew slower than their unfenced relatives. "

Other accounts can be found here and here!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It may be a quirk of my eyesight, or of my flat screen monitor, but while reading this entry, the beans in the image below it appeared to be dancing!

[Current music: Camper Van Beethoven - Take The Skinheads Bowling (WOXY Vintage)]