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9 MIN READ TIME

PLANTS VS ANIMALS

Plants and animals have been interacting with each other for hundreds of millions of years. Insects burrow into tree bark. Thorns pierce flesh. Leaves become dinner. And so it has gone through the ages of life on Earth since long before the time of the dinosaurs.

Animals and plants that benefitted from these interactions were better able to survive and pass on their characteristics to their seedlings or babies. Over countless generations many animal species evolved special adaptations to take advantage of the plants in their environment: grinding teeth to pulverize grasses, strong beaks for cracking tough seeds, and so on. At the same time, plants evolved defenses against being eaten, such as sharp prickles, bad taste, or poison.

Some plants also evolved ways to use animals. Sweet flower nectar entices bees to carry pollen. Larger animals carry hitchhiking seeds as burrs tangled in fur or berries in stomachs. And there are some astonishing plants that use animals the same way cows use grass: as nourishment! (We’ll learn more about true life carnivorous plants later in our story.)

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