Giant Rat-Eating Plant Discovered in the Philippines
Photos via the BBC
Something about carnivorous plants just strikes the imagination--what kid isn't awed/grossed out by Venus Flytraps when they first see them? To this day, as a (semi) grown man, I still admit to determining insect-eating plants to be "really cool." So what would the world think of a plant that eats rats? We're about to find out--scientists just discovered a new species of a plant that does exactly that in a remote area of the Philippines. The BBC describes the newly discovered species as a new kind of pitcher plant. And this one is evidently "among the largest of all pitchers and is so big that it can catch rats as well as insects in its leafy trap." Which makes it a pretty mean carnivorous plant--it catches insects, rodents, and other small animals in its tubes as they tumble down into them. The plant then closes its tube, trapping the prey inside.
Researchers are justifiably excited about their find. They say, according to the BBC, that
"The plant is among the largest of all carnivorous plant species and produces spectacular traps as large as other species which catch not only insects, but also rodents as large as rats," says McPherson.And since the plant grows in such a remote location--in highlands next to inaccessible to humans--researchers hope the plant will be able to continue to thrive unhampered by poachers.
Oh yeah, and one more thing. The giant rat-eating plant has been named after David Attenborough. Not sure what the researchers are implying by the tribute, but the plant will be called Nepenthes attenboroughii, in honor of the famous naturalist and broadcaster.
It's not something that comes around everyday--brand new rat-eating plants named after British television stars are getting harder to find these days.