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Discovery Magazine 3/1/1991

A "Toothbrush" for a Fish?

If you are like most people, you probably make a visit to the dentist once or twice a year. This friendly doctor looks into your mouth, cleans your teeth, and tells you to brush them very carefully so they will last a long time.

But did you ever wonder—how would an animal like a shark, or other big fish, get its teeth cleaned? Obviously, fish do not go to the dentist, or brush their teeth! Yet they still need to get their teeth cleaned, because as they eat plants and smaller fish in the ocean, pieces of food or other material can get stuck in their mouths.

A Trip to the "Cleaning Station"

So these big fish take a trip, not to the dentist, but to the local "cleaning station." And what an amazing sight it is! The big fish sometimes line up (really!) in the water, waiting for their turn. When that time arrives, the big fish opens his huge mouth, and bares its large teeth. Then, smaller fish and shrimp swim right into the big fish's mouth and eat away all the things that are stuck to its teeth. The big fish will even open its gills so that these "cleaner fish" can remove things that should not be there. When the cleaner fish have finished their job, does the big fish eat them? No! He swims away, only to return another day to visit the "cleaning station" again.

Symbiosis—Depending on Each Other

Sometimes in nature we find examples of plants or animals helping one another—like the big fish and the cleaner fish. The big fish gets his teeth and gills cleaned, while the cleaner fish gets a free meal. We call this relationship "symbiosis" (sim-by-OH-sis).

God Did It!

Did this symbiosis "just happen"? People who believe in evolution say it did. But, they cannot explain how evolution could make such things happen. These things appear, said one scientist, to have been "carefully designed." Who could have designed these "cleaning stations"? And who could have caused tiny "cleaner fish" to want to swim right into the mouths of much bigger, meaner fish? The answer, of course, is God. He designed the Earth, and all things on it (read Hebrews 3:4). Symbiosis, cleaning stations, and brave little fish did not "just happen." They were created by God.



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