Bowerbirds Cultivate Fruit

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Bowerbirds cultivate fruit for mates, according to articles in ScienceDaily and Current Biology, 24 April 2012, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.057. Male Bowerbirds attract mates by building a shelter of sticks and leaves and decorating it with objects collected from the surrounding environment. A team of researchers in Taunton National Park in Queensland, Australia noticed a plant named Solanum ellipticum was growing more profusely around the bowers than in other places, and the fruit of the bower plants was greener than those elsewhere. It turns out the birds were decorating their bowers with the fruit.

The researchers tested the birds for colour preference and found they liked the greener fruit. When the fruit dried, shrivelled up and lost its colour the birds threw them out of the bowers and replaced them. The seed in the cast out fruits germinated and grew around the bowers. The birds clear the areas around the bowers of grass and weeds making a good place for seeds to germinate and grow.

Bowerbirds can maintain a bower in the same place for up to 10 years so it is good for them to have a plant that will live for several years growing around their bowers. Joah Madden, who led the study, commented: “Until now, humans have been the only species known to cultivate plants for uses other than food. We grow plants for all kinds of things - from drugs, to clothing, to props that we use in our sexual displays such as roses -- but it seems we are not unique in this respect. We do not believe bowerbirds are intentionally growing these plants, but this accumulation of preferred objects close to a site of habitation is arguably the way any cultivation begins. It will be very interesting to see how this mutually-beneficial relationship between bowerbirds and these plants develops”.

ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: This quirky, but mutually beneficial relationship does not need to develop. It already works.

Madden’s theory that “accumulation of preferred objects close to a site of habitation is arguably the way any cultivation begins” shows his evolutionary mindset. According to evolution primitive humans went from hunting and foraging to farming. However, Genesis tells us human beings were created to cultivate plants. Man’s first home was a garden and Adam was instructed to tend it. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden they practised farming, growing crops and tending domestic animals. It was only after further rebellion against God that Cain and his descendants became nomads and lost the ability to farm and took up building cities. (Genesis 4). (Ref. ornithology, reproduction, Australia)

Evidence News 23 May 2012

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