New research is ROCKING the notoriously arrogant carnivorous plant scientific community: It appears that the largest carnivorous plant, the giant pitcher plant of Borneo (or the Nepenthes rajah for those in the know), has not evolved into its immense size in order to capture and eat small rodents, but to be a large toilet for furry tree shrews to deposit their nutrient rich feces in.
Don’t nobody go in there for thirty-five…forty-five minutes!
Since their discovery in the early Eighteen…ahem…hmmm…(sorry, we’re animal guys), the giant pitcher plants have been rumored to ingest not just bugs and worms as most carnivorous plants, but also small vertebrates. In the previously linked to article from bbc.com, however, Dr. Charles Clarke of Monash University in Selangor, Malaysia explains, “This species has always been famous for its ability to trap rodents, but I’ve been looking at the pitchers of this species on and off since 1987, and I’ve never seen a trapped rat inside.” Yeah, what’s up with that?
Dr. Clarke did notice all sorts of tree shrew feces in the bottom of the plants, leading him to reconsider the plant’s evolution. As it turns out, the plants have large openings, but they also have concave lids which are covered with nectar-producing glands. The distance between the front lip of the pitcher and the glands happens to correspond directly with the average size of the local tree shrews. In other words, when the shrews come to eat the nectar, the plants reap the sweet rewards of being pooped into. You can follow his research more closely by googling “eating animal feces.” Good luck with that!
Right now, my head is spinning with so many off color jokes on this subject that I may possibly have a nervous breakdown, but I’ll just leave it at this. Somewhere, right now, an obsessive carnivorous plant geek is seriously questioning his entire existence.
Can I please tell you all what a wonderful resource NVDH is? He is like an entire research department for Zooillogix. My man!