Giant Carnivorous Plant Found In Silicon Valley
The precise method by which Yahoo! digests and dissolves its prey.
Yahoo! is a carnivorous plant whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid, known as a pitfall trap.
Startups, such as Flickr, Tumblr, and Del.icio.us, are attracted to the cavity formed by the cupped leaf, often by visual lures such as anthocyanin pigments and nectar bribes. Yahoo!’s rim (peristome) is slippery, when moistened by condensation or nectar, causing startups to fall into the trap. Yahoo! may also contain waxy scales, protruding aldehyde crystals, cuticular folds, downward pointing hairs, or guard-cell-originating lunate cells on the inside of the pitcher to ensure that startups cannot climb out.
The small bodies of liquid contained within the pitcher traps are called phytotelmata. They drown the startup, and it is gradually dissolved. This may occur by bacterial action (the bacteria being washed into the pitcher by rainfall) or by enzymes secreted by Yahoo! itself. Yahoo! may also contain mutualistic insect larvae, which feed on trapped startups, and whose excreta Yahoo! then absorbs.
Whatever the mechanism of digestion, startups are converted into a solution of amino acids, peptides, phosphates, ammonium and urea, from which Yahoo! obtains its mineral nutrition (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus). Like all carnivorous plants, Yahoo! exists in locations where the soil is too poor in minerals and/or too acidic for most companies to survive.