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  • Little do they know it, but these 6 creatures are each about to experience a very unusual death.

  • One-by-one, they will fall prey to the remarkable, predatory antics of a carnivorous plant.

  • Around the world there are more than 600 plant species that supplement a regular diet of sunlight, water, and soil with insects, microbes, or even frogs and rats.

  • Scientists believe that carnivory in plants evolved separately at least 6 times on our planet, suggesting that this flesh-munching adaptation holds a major benefit for plants.

  • Carnivorous plants tend to grow in places with highly acidic soil, which is poor in crucial nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

  • In these hostile conditions, plants that are able to lure, trap, and digest prey have an advantage over those that rely on soil for their nutrients.

  • Take this inhospitable bog, where pitcher plants reign supreme.

  • Drawn to the pitcher's vivid colors and alluring scent, the fly closes in and slurps its nectar.

  • But this pitcher species has an ingredient called coniine in its nectar, a powerful narcotic to insects.

  • As the coniine takes effect, the fly grows sluggish, stumbles, and falls down the funnel into a pool of liquid at the base, where he drowns.

  • Enzymes and bacteria in the liquid slowly break his body down into microscopic particles the pitcher plant can consume through its leaves.

  • Occasionally, larger prey also tumbles into the fatal funnel of the pitcher plant.

  • The second victim faces off with the sticky sundew plant.

  • The sundew's tiny leaves are equipped with a viscous secretion called mucilage.

  • The ant is swiftly trapped in this goo.

  • As she struggles, enzymes begin to digest her body.

  • Special tentacles sense her movement and curl around her, clenching her in their suffocating grip.

  • Once she asphyxiates, which can happen in under an hour, the tentacles unfurl again to snare their next victim.

  • 2 down, 4 to go.

  • The next target meets his end underground, in the coils of the corkscrew plant.

  • He enters the roots through a tiny slit in search of food.

  • But inside, he quickly loses his way through the tangled labyrinth.

  • A forest of curved hairs prevents his escape, guiding him into a central chamber with flesh-digesting enzymes and deadly low levels of oxygen.

  • In the murky depths of a nearby pond, a tadpole unwittingly swims into the path of the bladderwort, the speediest of all carnivorous plants.

  • She treads on the bladderwort's trigger, and in milliseconds, a trapdoor swings open and sucks her in.

  • Trapped half in and half out, she struggles to free herself while the part of her body inside the plant gets digested.

  • Over the next few hours, her writhing sets the trap off repeatedly.

  • Each time bringing her deeper into the plant to be digested alive bit by bit.

  • Meanwhile, this beetle is bewitched by sweet-smelling nectar.

  • The scent draws him closer and closer until he lands on the leaves of the world's most infamous carnivorous plant.

  • His landing triggers tiny hairs on the surface of the leaves, and the jaws of the Venus flytrap snap shut around him.

  • The spikes interlock to seal his fate.

  • Once closed, the leaves act like an external stomach that digests the beetle's soft tissues.

  • When they open again a few days later, only the dry husk of his exoskeleton remains.

  • The mayfly is the last creature standing.

  • As she approaches the butterwort plant, she heads for the flowers that wave high above the plant's globs of adhesive goo.

  • She alights on the petals, drinks the nectar, and takes off unscathed.

  • These long flower stalks keep certain insects away from the carnivore's traps—a way of separating pollinators from food.

  • Off the mayfly buzzes to live a long and fruitful life.

  • Oh!

  • While these carnivorous characters might seem villainous, remember that plants are always under attack.

  • Check out this video to learn how plants defend themselves from fungi, elephants, and everything in between.

Little do they know it, but these 6 creatures are each about to experience a very unusual death.

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B2 US TED-Ed plant pitcher carnivorous nectar soil

The wild world of flesh-eating plants - Kenny Coogan

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    Amy.Lin posted on 2019/07/30
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