Friday, August 28, 2009

Carnivorous Plant Dines on Jungle Rats

Photo: Redfern Natural History via CNN
There's an old saying that if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door. Well it looks like mother nature has already made one. Meet Nepenthes attenboroughii the a species of Pitcher Plant, a carnivorous plant. This one eats rodents, namely jungle rats. As you can see in the photo below, they're called pitcher plants because of the vase-shaped vessel that makes up the bulk of the plant. This acts as mouth and stomach all-in-one.

Now, I'm sure all of you have at least seen a Venus Fly Trap at one point. Maybe at a conservatory or zoo, or even on TV. And we've all seen carnivorous plants in science fiction. Heck even Roadblock from G.I. Joe has had one run in too many with voracious flora.

But this isn't sci-fi, it's a real meat-eating plant! CNN takes us to the Philippines to where the plant was discovered:McPherson told CNN:
"Around the mouth of the pitcher are secretions of nectar which attracts insects and small animals. The rim has lots of waxy downward-pointing ridges which help prey fall directly into the pitcher.

"The pitchers are half full of a liquid consisting of acids and enzymes which help break down its prey."

The insectivorous, sometimes carnivorous diet is crucial for the plants' survival says McPherson.

"These plants grow in really harsh areas where soil quality is very poor -- often pure gravel or sand. Catching insects allows the plant to augment nutrients that it otherwise wouldn't have access to."

Still not grossed out? Here's a video of the plant feasting on a rat. And a slightly longer clip with narration explaining the deviousness of said plant. Enjoy!

The plant is named for famed broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough who although had nothing to do with it's discovery, was deemed an all-around, nice enough guy to name a deadly flesh eating plant after. Although he did do a segment on Venus Fly Traps, so that would seem to make sense.



Mykal said...

I actually feel sorry for this poor rat. What a way to go.

You have a fascinating blog here. I'll be back. -- Mykal

Jay said...

Hey thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I feel bad for him too. Hopefully those plants don't grow any bigger!