A Deep Bit of Trivia

Today, I was looking at a trivia web site and found the following:

What does the agouti—a ground-dwelling rodent—do that’s vital to the survival of Brazil nut trees in remote South American rain forests?

It turns out that the nuts of the Brazil nut tree is very difficult to crack open. The agouti is able to use its incredibly hard teeth to crack the hard shell of Brazil nuts when they fall to the ground. These rodents eat some of the nuts but also bury some of them into the ground. This causes more tree seedlings to sprout, resulting in more trees over time. This is a symbiotic relationship that allows the Brazil nut tree to propagate.

What I find so incredibly interesting is that these trees and rodents evolved together completely by chance! The trees had to evolve such that only rodents with incredibly sharp teeth could open the pods. Plus, the trees had to require having much of the pod stripped away and buried for it to germinate.

Not only this, but a rodent had to evolve in the same geographic area that had an affinity/taste for the Brazil nut. This rodent had to actually want to work hard to get to the nut, not just give up and eat something easier to get to. And the agouti had to have a need to bury some nuts, not just eat them all.

And all of the genetic, biochemical, and physical structures of both the tree and the agouti had to evolve at the same time and rate for both organisms to survive. If only one small aspect of all of that complexity had changed in some minute way, neither of these organisms would exist.

Of course, it’s not the work of the benevolent and wise hand of chance. It’s the work of an intelligent designer.

Answer:

The agouti is able to crack the thick, hard husk of the grapefruit-size seedpods that fall from the Brazil nut tree—something no other animal can do. After using its incredibly strong teeth to free the seeds from a pod, the agouti feasts on some of them and buries the rest for future meals. Many of the seeds remain buried and end up sprouting, yielding a new generation of trees.