A Pie In The Face news service science report.
Cherry Dragon update for 2013
The Cherry Dragon emerges every year this time and pollinates the cherry blossoms. The insect and the plant have a symbiotic relationship which over millions of years has caused the Cherry Dragon to morph its own physiology in order to obtain the cherry nectar which is it's only food.
Their dependence on the cherry nectar has had a determinative effect on their own evolution. During the blossomless months the Cherry Dragon burrows into the earth where it is assimilated through the root system of the host tree and becomes dormant. In the spring it emerges transformed (as is seen in the photograph) to obtain it's food.
(Click on photographs to enlarge them for greater detail.)
The life cycles of the Cherry Dragon are tied to the cycle of blossom of the host cherry tree which means its waking life each year is measured in just days. Longer than some insects, but not all that long of a waking life if you stop to think about it. The Cherry Dragon's actual life span has, over the years, become linked to the life span of the host tree itself.
Scientists working together for a consortium of cosmetics industries had thought there might be a connection to the effect of the specific enzyme, cherizine, which causes the transformation of the otherwise homely Cherry Dragon into what you see by comparing the photographs.
In the photograph below a malnourished Cherry Dragon is shown in its normal state shortly after emerging in the spring.
This information was slipped to the press in the same way as the banana skin rumor of the 60's. It was dubbed the 'beauty enzyme' and some inventive hacks were hired to write up press releases.
A three year study of areas where large quantities of juice were purchased determined that no similar effects were noted in the human population. The study revealed that you were just as likely to remain ugly whether you drank it or not. However the price of cherry related stocks rose substantially, but briefly before settling down just a few points above where prices were previously.
Scientist Joseph Schmoo of ULOCO is the worlds foremost authority on the Cherry Dragon. His best seller, "The Search For The Beauty Enzyme" topped the best sellers list for 100 weeks. Dr. Schmoo likes to tell how he developed a recipe for making juice from their bodies: "It's pretty good but takes some getting used to. It's better the first time if someone gives you a glass and doesn't tell you what it is. That way you don't get the gag effect until after you've asked. Most people do okay until then."
When asked the most interesting thing he had learned in his study of Cherry Dragons he was eager to share his stories. One of the most fascinating and endearing was his description of the existence of what can only be understood as a lifetime bond between the insect and the host tree.
He offered as proof, his investigation of a tree that was cut down in which the Cherry Dragon refused to go to the next tree just a few feet away. Instead it remained with its host where it was burned in the fireplace on Christmas eve. "Everyone remarked how sweet, like incense, the wood smoke in the crisp air was when we returned from caroling," he recalled.
"Behavior like this has been noted in warm blooded animals before, but never in insects in a trans-species relationship." Dr. Schmoo concluded.
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