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Darwinism: Carnivorous plant continues to be smarter than we think

File:Nepenthes gracilis with ant.png

pitcher plant preparing ant for lunch/Bauer, U. et al.

From Pitcher Plant Uses Rain Drops to Capture Prey (ScienceDaily, June 13, 2012), we learn,

… researchers have now discovered a new, unique method of capturing insects by the pitcher plant Nepenthes gracilis.

The lead author of the paper, Dr Ulrike Bauer from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, said: “It all started with the observation of a beetle seeking shelter under a N. gracilis lid during a tropical rainstorm. Instead of finding a safe — and dry — place to rest, the beetle ended up in the pitcher fluid, captured by the plant. We had observed ants crawling under the lid without difficulty many times before, so we assumed that the rain played a role, maybe causing the lid to vibrate and ‘catapulting’ the beetle into the trap, similar to the springboard at a swimming pool.”

To test their hypothesis, the scientists simulated ‘rain’ with a hospital drip and recorded its effect on a captive colony of ants that was foraging on the nectar under the lid. They counted the number of ants that fell from the lid in relation to the total number of visitors. They found that ants were safe before and directly after the ‘rain’, but when the drip was switched on about 40% of the ants got trapped.

Further research revealed that the lower lid surface of the N. gracilis pitcher is covered with highly specialised wax crystals. This structure seems to provide just the right level of slipperiness to enable insects to walk on the surface under ‘calm’ conditions but lose their footing when the lid is disturbed (in most cases, by rain drops). The scientists also found that the lid of N. gracilis secretes larger amounts of attractive nectar than that of other pitcher plants, presumably to take advantage of this unique mechanism.

Seriously, Darwin’s banished co-theorist Wallace warned him to address the issue of carnivorous plants, but of course Darwin never did.

Note: We had quite the lark here last year when a carnivorous plant offered to eat a Darwinist. The Darwinist argued that carnivory must have evolved according to Darwin’s theory, but the plants maintain that they have always had a primordial right to eat whatever they trap, including even mammals, including Darwinists, without reference to Darwin’s theory. They prefer Black Forest ham and escargot, but settle for what falls in:

Carnivorous plants eat Darwinists

Carnivorous plants: After eating Darwin, they couldn’t resist furtherculinary adventures

Carnivorous plants: Darwinist Nick Matzke is latest to put Darwin’s theory “outside science”

Update from botanist on the plants that ate Darwin

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3 Responses to Darwinism: Carnivorous plant continues to be smarter than we think

  1. 1

    Seriously, Darwin’s banished co-theorist Wallace warned him to address the issue of carnivorous plants, but of course Darwin never did.

    You guys have a bad memory. Darwin literally wrote the first book on carnivorous plants. It’s Darwin (1875), Insectivorous Plants. Darwin also proposed the first explanation for the evolutionary origin of the Venus Flytrap in that very book:

    CONCLUDING REMARKS ON THE DROSERACEAE.

    The six known genera composing this family have now been described in relation to our present subject, as far as my means have permitted. They all capture insects. This is effected by Drosophyllum, Roridula, and Byblis, solely by the viscid fluid secreted from their glands; by Drosera, through the same means, together with the movements of the tentacles; by Dionaea and Aldrovanda, through the closing of the blades of the leaf. In these two last genera rapid movement makes up for the loss of viscid secretion. [...] The parent form of Dionaea and Aldrovanda seems to have been closely allied to Drosera, and to have had rounded leaves, supported on distinct footstalks, and furnished with tentacles all round the circumference, with other tentacles and sessile glands on the upper surface. (Darwin 1875, pp 355-6, 360).

    His explanation has been basically confirmed by numerous later studies.

    Wallace was asking about the origin of another carnivorous plant trap, that of Utricularia. But you made up, out of whole cloth, “Darwin’s banished co-theorist Wallace warned him to address the issue of carnivorous plants, but of course Darwin never did.”

    Can’t you guys get anything right?

  2. More story-telling? Like the Bear to Whale story? Mmmm… yes, truly addresses the issue.

    Least they get the big issues right. Darwin Tree of Life failing, Modern Synthesis failing and atheist, Darwinist and marterialist spinning their wheels in random directions searching for their next great blind savior.

    Gradually, maybe a few materialist will open their eyes, or it might occur in leaps and bounds, though hardened purist, will surely argue a leap never occurred without faith.

  3. Nick Matzke at 1: Yes, you are correct. Wallace warned Darwin to address utricularia and he didn’t. Understandably.

    There’s a difference between making up an explanation and writing a backstory novel.

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