Unfolding plans 107 – Which came first?

Now we all know that the egg came before the chicken.  The first chicken came from an egg that was laid by a chicken like creature.  That is how evolution works, with small changes in genetic material leading to enhancements brought about by natural selection through the reproductive process.  We can put that one to bed, but which came first, the apple or the pig?

I’ve often wondered why apples are so big and heavy.  If there role is, as is the same with any fruiting body, to spread their seed then, by themselves, apples don’t seem to be a very good model.  They are large and cumbersome and fall from the tree to the ground below.  Any seedling would struggle to grow as it would be disadvantaged by the lack of light caused by the shadow of its parent tree.  Unless the apple tree is on the top of a hill and the fruit can roll away then this wouldn’t work.

All living things have the same problem.  How do you get your progeny to be far enough away from you so that they have a good chance in life and don’t rely upon the same resources that the parent does?  Plants have come up with many solutions such as windborne seeds or burrs that stick to fur.  Animals have it much easier as once they are up and running they can up and run to somewhere where competition is a little less fierce.  But the heavy thump of an apple falling to the ground just doesn’t fit within this model.

Their solution of course is animal based.  Apples are nice to eat.  They attract animals that eat them, swallow the seeds inside which then pass through them and then have the chance of being deposited at some random location some distance from where they started.  I’m not an expert in sylvanian ways but I’m thinking that this is a role that pigs or wild boars would have played. Other animals are available but I’m thinking that pigs have a big enough mouth to take on the challenge.  Whether I’m right or wrong is neither here nor there it is the point that is important.

You see, there is a trade-off.  The apple tree gets its seed spread far and wide while the pig grows fat on its plunder.  But which came first?  Surely the tree didn’t grow bigger and bigger fruit in the hope that it would attract some kindly creature.  There is no way that the pig groped in the undergrowth in the hope that one day it would find something juicy to eat.  Neither could have survived in advance of the other.  Without a successful seed distribution method the apple tree would not prosper.  Without adequate food supplies the pig could not flourish.

So which came first, the apple or the pig?  The answer is of course neither.  Both tree and animal came together.  Their evolution is inextricably linked.  They were co-created.  As Stephen Covey says, it is a win win situation.

There’s a moral in there somewhere.

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