Biologists have discovered an underground carnivorous plant

(ORDO NEWS) — A unique carnivorous Nepenthes from Indonesia grows insect traps right in the ground.

In the mountains of Borneo, scientists have found a new predatory plant – the first of the famous carnivorous genus Nepenthes, which specializes in prey living in the soil, and grows traps for them right under the ground.

The vast majority of plants are fairly peaceful and harmless creatures, but some exhibit predatory abilities. This allows them to receive additional nutrients and grow on extremely poor soils.

The most famous are sundews and nepenthes, although hundreds of species are known to scientists: representatives of a dozen orders of flowering plants independently developed predation.

Recently, new such predators have been discovered in Indonesia, on the island of Borneo. The plants described by Martin Dančák and colleagues belong to the well-known carnivorous Nepenthes genus.

Their modified leaves form pitcher-like traps for insects: attracted by color and smell, the prey looks inside, slides down the smooth walls and enters a thick sticky liquid, where it sinks and is gradually digested by the plant.

However, the new Nepenthes pudica stand out in the deadly team of Nepenthes: their traps are not above the ground, but hidden in the depths.

Biologists have discovered an underground carnivorous plant 2
Nepenthes pudica in its natural environment: the plant does not have any traps above the ground

Strange nepenthys were first noticed during an expedition in 2012 in the mountains at an altitude of 1100-1300 meters.

Scientists noticed that these plants do not have traps, but strange deformed leaves are slightly shown from the ground under them.

Carefully digging up the ground, biologists discovered entire labyrinths of traps growing under it up to 11 centimeters long.

Apparently, these “modernized” systems are designed to hunt small animals that live in the soil – ants, beetles, spiders, and so on. The authors of the work examined a total of 17 plants and found half-digested victims in many jugs.

N. pudica is not the first carnivorous plant to grow underground traps for trapping insects, but it is the first representative of a fairly large genus of Nepenthes.

“We assume that underground they find more stable conditions, including moisture, as well as more prey, especially during dry times,” the researchers concluded .

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