Deep in the jungle primeval, Nepenthes attenboroughii awaits its furry prey. But N. attenboroughii isn't a stealthy cat or poisonous lizard. It's a plant, and it eats rats.
Scientists recently discovered this new species of pitcher plant on the verdant face of Mount Victoria in the Philippines. It is the largest carnivorous plant ever discovered, and has been named after the famous naturalist and TV personality Sir David Attenborough.
Meat-eating pitcher plants were first described by science in the time of Linnaeus, but the previously discovered Nepenthes species stuck to small prey like insects and spiders -- if an unlucky mouse or bird became a meal, that was a rare treat. But the giant N. attenboroughii is a vertebrate specialist.
The plant lures in the rats with the promise of sweet nectar. When the rat leans into the plant to drink the saccharine liquid, it slips on the pitcher's waxy interior, and gets stuck in the gooey sap. Once it is trapped, acid-like digestive enzymes break down the still-living rodent.
To better explain the whole process, as well as the life cycle of pitcher plants, here's a video narrated by none other than N. attenboroughii's namesake, David Attenborough himself.
[via The Telegraph]
sweet. a new species.
we could do with some of these in Jamaica, they'd thrive.
The Voice of Jamaica
I need that in my Little Shop of Horrors -- Feed me Seymour.
Where is Mount Victoria in the Philippines? nice one..
I wish they would have gone in to detail what prevents the rodents from scratching and biting their way out.
No matter how fast light travels, darkness got there first and waited for it.
Does the plant need the prey to survive and maintain these huge pods or can it sustain itself solely on nutrients in the soil?
Can these be purchased anywhere in the USA
@ meyaht: Any carnivorous plant is unable to sustain itself in the soil because the soil is nitrogen poor. Proteins are jam packed full of nitrogen so what better way to get nitrogen than to ingest insects and mammals that are made of protein. Atmospheric Nitrogen is triple bonded and can't be fixed for plant usage. Just digest an animal and problem solved. The structures evolved to attract animals and were most fit for the environment.
I know this lady who is a hoarder and she has thousands of rats (and mice too) on her property and in her house - she sure could use a whole bunch of these plants! It would be a lot easier than setting dozens of traps...
Imagine... Purchasing one of these and placing it in your house. Any pest (mice, rats, ants, spiders) will be swallowed.
Pest problem solved.
I'm just worried that with an excess of food it will grow large enough to eat a toddler that got too close.
Most definately little shop of horrors.
(I also have two pet rats and I kind of like them living)
I think my rats are better living. Besides, who has that big a pest problem in their house? Besides hoarders that is?
I'd be afraid that the plant would eat the puppy running around my house. Its certainly big enough. it would be usefull though if we could selectively breed it to atract only small rodents, like chiuauas, and mice. we have a large infestation of bot where I live.
HALO Nerd ;D
Love, Peace & Soul
I don't meant to be a total nerd here, but does anyone else notice that it looks very much like the Poke'mon Victorybell? It's the first thing I thought of when I saw it and I haven't played that game in years. A remarkable discovery.
Wow, that is amazing that such a plant exists. There must be so many other incredible creatures out there that we haven't discovered yet. That would be horrible to be digested alive, though!
The better question...what do rats taste like when eaten alive?
Chicken. They taste like chicken.
As a previous post said, it is curious that rats in particular couldn't simply chew their way out, considering they have extremely strong teeth and jaws. Perhaps there is some sort of sedative chemical in the liquid? PopSci should publish a followup on this.
The last thine we need are pet shops stupidly selling this non-native species in stores. One, it could be potentially dangerous to pets and children. Two, if people release it into the wild, we could have another unchecked non-native plant with no natural checks in place to prevent it from overpopulating, like Brazillian Pepper, which has become a plague. I would not want to see these covering America's swamp land.
Let them stay in their native habitat. People should not be so anxious to bring them here.