Sunday, September 07, 2008

BYBS: The System of Life

One of the things that fascinates me about life is that there are so many examples of species that work together.

For example, if you took the DNA from a termite and created a clone, you would end up with an animal that would starve to death.   Termites cannot digest wood without the help of some microorganisms.  Note the use of the plural.  The microorganisms themselves rely on other microorganisms in order to process the plant material.

The termite and the microorganisms depend on plants, or more specifically dead plants, in order to survive.  Once they have been digested, that material is fed back into the whole cycle.  Life is a system of organisms. Examining one in isolation does not tell the whole story.

Another aspect of life is that it is not static – there is no "balance" as such.  Species are in constant threat from other species such as predators, or other species competing for the same resources that they use.  Then there is the environment as a whole, which is in a constant state of flux. 

For example, it is believed that a key component of the human cell, called the mitochondrion started out considerably different then they are today.  The mitochondria seen in other organisms function in basically the same role, but in human cells it appears to be simpler and more focused on producing energy.  The containing cell, in turn, has taken over some of the tasks that the ancestral mitochondrion performed.

The water changes, but the river remains the same.

4 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

Life in all its strangeness and interconnectedness is a source of wonder for me, too. I am always intrigued by the delicate nature of things, how so much depends on things being aligned just so. And yet the world goes on....

Jeeves inTeens said...

Yes My god yes....well doesnt that prove how dependent everyone is...

PERBS said...

Love your ending sentence!

stev said...

an interesting look at life's circle...

funny how dependent we all are on this chaos of flux

mmm...