Birds on buffalo we’ve seen, but what’s this? Frogs hitching on top of buffaloes?

Image by Kevin Dowie via Pinterest, Nizamettin Yavuz via National Geographic

Symbiotic relationships are a special type of interaction between species. Sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, these relationships are essential to ecosystems and many organisms themselves, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together.

Since elementary school, if you recall, we have been taught about “mutualism”; a kind of symbiotic relationship where both the species benefit from each other.

One common example is that of a bee and a flower. Another familiar example is a picture of a bird and a buffalo, where the bird feeds from the pests/exoparasites on the buffalo’s body, and the buffalo is of course relieved because of the process. But what is this weird thing that have been shared by National Geographic?

Can “Marsh frogs” flocking on top of a “horned water buffalo” suggest a new kind of relationship in Biology, or is it just the same as “mutualism”, but just happens rarely or have just been recently discovered/observed?

According to National Geographic, the phenomenon was first spotted during a birdwatching excursion in Turkey’s Kizilirmak Delta; one of the largest wetlands in the Middle East.

A team led by ecologist Piotr Zduniak of Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz University returned to northern Turkey to learn more about the unusual incident.

And once they were there, the team noted 10 more cases of frogs hitching a ride on the backs of buffaloes.

While the reason behind this “relationship” isn’t quite clear yet, the researchers say the two creatures may be working in each other’s’ favour, as well as their own.

The most simple explanation perhaps could just be: frogs are known to feast on flies – and buffaloes are known to harbour these insects.

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