adBlockCheck

Rhino, Tickbird Stuck In Dead-End Symbiotic Relationship

Top Headlines

Science & Technology

What Is Pokémon Go?

Since its debut last Thursday, the augmented-reality smartphone app Pokémon Go has been downloaded millions of times and has grown publisher Nintendo’s stock by 25 percent. The Onion answers some common questions about the game and its unprecedented success.

Factory Robot Working On Some Of Its Own Designs After Hours

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC—Saying it had been mulling over the “fun little side project” for a while, an Electroimpact Quadbot reportedly put in some extra work after hours at the Boeing assembly plant Wednesday to try out a few of its own original designs.

Books Vs. E-Readers

Though e-readers have increasingly supplanted books in the digital age, many bibliophiles defend the importance of physical texts. Here is a side-by-side comparison of physical books and e-books

Disney Begins Uploading Obama’s Consciousness To Hall Of Presidents Robot

BAY LAKE, FL—In an effort to provide park visitors with the most true-to-life attraction possible, Walt Disney World officials announced Monday that computer technicians have begun uploading Barack Obama’s consciousness into his animatronic robot likeness at the Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents exhibit.

Facebook’s Plans For The Future

From instant articles to live video, Facebook continues to look for new ways to expand its reach and offerings. Here are some plans on the horizon for the social media giant

Brita Unveils New In-Throat Water Filters

OAKLAND, CA—Representatives from Brita, the nation’s bestselling brand of household water filtration products, held a press event Wednesday to unveil a new line of filters designed to be installed directly inside users’ throats.

Video Game Henchmen Plan Meetup Around Explosive Barrels

LEVEL 5—A group of video game henchmen patrolling the warehouse hideout of their criminal mastermind boss informed reporters Wednesday of their upcoming plan to take a brief break from making their rounds to meet up around a stack of five highly explosive barrels.

Study Links Clinical Depression To Getting Dunked On

BOSTON—Identifying a significant factor contributing to the development of the mental health disorder, researchers from Harvard Medical School published a groundbreaking study Thursday that reportedly links clinical depression to getting dunked on.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Rhino, Tickbird Stuck In Dead-End Symbiotic Relationship

POLOKWANE, SOUTH AFRICA—After three rainy seasons together, a black rhinoceros and a parasite-eating tickbird are beginning to suspect that their symbiotic relationship has fallen into a rut, the couple reported Sunday. 

"We're really symbiotic—almost too symbiotic," the rhino said. "It's just gotten so predictable lately that I'm starting to wonder, 'Is this all there is?'"

The rhino and tickbird pass another morning on the African savannah not saying one word to each other.

First meeting at a local watering hole in 2004, both creatures immediately saw themselves as natural for one other and, in the words of the rhino, felt something "new, gratifying, and mutually beneficial." Within hours, the tickbird had moved into the rhino's habitat and set up house on his thick hide. 

But as time went on, it slowly dawned on the couple that their partnership was perhaps merely one of convenience.

 "I admit, when we first got together, I was a total mess," the rhino said. "She really helped me clean up my act. But we've been together so long now that I always know exactly what she's going to do next."

Devouring horsefly larvae embedded in her 3,000-pound partner's back, the tickbird seemed to agree that there was little fire left in their symbiotic relationship. At worst, she said, it feels like she and the rhino have been trapped in the same dead-end symbiosis for "countless millions of years."

"We just go through the motions, and there's hardly any communication," the tickbird said. "And we do it the exact same way every time. I get on top and take the parasites off while he just lays there."

"Feed off the embedded ticks on his hide, chirp when the predators come. Feed off the embedded ticks on his hide, chirp when the predators come. Where's the passion, the heat?" the tickbird continued.

The tickbird also accused the rhino of trying to make her "feel small." 

"He doesn't realize everything I do for him," the tickbird said. "If it wasn't for my 'incessant squawking,' as he calls it, he would be shot by poachers before he even saw them coming." 

Both creatures separately expressed envy of their neighbors, a plover and crocodile, who "never seem to have the problems we do," the rhino said. 

"That crocodile appreciates having his teeth cleaned, and he makes sure she knows," the tickbird said. "Look at that big grin."

The rhino said that he often feels like a victim of her nitpicking.

"I might look tough, but I have feelings," the rhino said. "I give her plenty to eat and a great place to perch, but it feels like she's constantly pecking an open wound. Ugh, why can't we just be friends with mutualistic benefits?" 

The frustration has caused the pair to act out in passive-aggressive ways. The rhino will frequently charge without warning, jarring the tickbird from her perch. Meanwhile, the tickbird often deliberately embarrasses her partner by speculating aloud about a symbiotic relationship with a cape buffalo or zebra, often within earshot of those species.

According to a nearby elephant, this sense of stagnancy commonly occurs in symbiotic partnerships across sub-Saharan Africa.

"The rhino and tickbird may have evolved physiologically to meet each other's needs, but it's clear they haven't evolved emotionally," the elephant said. "They need to recognize that in order to go forward. The rhino's loud snorting  is very alienating. And obviously the tickbird is projecting her own feelings of inadequacy when she criticizes the rhino for being a typical Diceros bicornis."

For all their friction, both creatures conceded that they weren't sure they could actually live without each other. 

"I don't know why we stay together," the rhino said. "I guess we're just creatures of instinctual habit."

Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close