In This Chapter

^ What co-evolution means ^ Relationships between co-evolving pairs ^ Co-evolution in plant and animal species ^ The co-evolution of disease agents and their hosts

Co-evolution is what happens when a change in one species selects for a change in another species, and it's ridiculously cool because it makes for a lot of fascinating species interactions. When two species are evolving reciprocally, they end up with some really beautiful patterns and neat adaptations. I mean, think about it — cheetahs run ridiculously fast. Why? Because the antelope that they chase run really fast too. The existence of cheetahs selects for faster antelope, and those faster antelope select for faster cheetahs.

The cheetah-antelope scenario is an example of an antagonist interaction, in which one species is looking to eat the other one. Possibly even more beautiful are complicated examples of mutualism, in which, for example, plants with long curved flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds with long curved beaks — beaks that are curved to match the curved flowers exactly!

But even beyond how amazing all these interactions are, co-evolution serves as a nice reminder that evolution is always about your own fitness, not somebody else's.

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