Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shit Eating

Pitcher Plants are plants that grow in low nitrogen areas. If you can't get nitrogen from the soil, and you can't fix it like clover or some other plants, you have to get your nitrogen from somewhere else, and eating an animal is always a good way to cope. So pitcher plants usually try to attract insects to fall in their liquid-filled cups, and then they eat (digest) the insect.

This plant has evolved with the knowledge* that the usual mammal waste products, feces and urine, are very high in nitrogen. So, it has become a toilet.

Original Credit: Ch'ien Lee

The plant [video] is big, almost the size of a football, The lid is covered in nectar, which attracts the tree shrew with a yummy snack; the bowl is shaped precisely to catch the shrew's poop. There is even some thought that the nectar might have laxative properties, because it certainly collects a lot of the stuff, which provides needed nitrogen for the plant.
I love evolution. All's for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

* Yes, I know the plant doesn't actually have 'knowledge'. I can't think of another way to put it at the moment.

Original article.

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