Scientists discovered several organisms living inside Nepenthes pudica pitcher traps, one of which turned out to be a hitherto unknown species of worm.
An international team of researchers discovered a new species on the Indonesian island of Borneo of a carnivorous plant that develops traps called drop traps, or jug traps, which capture their prey in the subsoil, a feature hitherto unknown in this type of organism.
The new species , baptized as ‘Nepenthes pudica’, develops underground, or directly on the ground, traps of up to 11 centimeters in length, with which it feeds on subsoil animals, mainly worms, mites and beetles.
According to the academics in an article recently published in the journal PhytoKeys, the leaves of the plant are small, in relation to the size that the organism reaches, and they lack chlorophyll, so they are completely white . However, the pitcher structure retains the characteristic reddish color of the Nepenthes, the taxonomic family to which it belongs.
Although three other groups of plants are known to trap underground prey, experts explain, they use very different capture mechanisms, and can only catch tiny organisms.
“Interestingly, we found numerous organisms living inside the pitcher traps, including mosquito larvae, nematodes [c commonly known as roundworms] and a hitherto unknown species of worm”, pointed out Václav Cermák, co-author of the research.
Scientists suspect that the ‘Nepenthes pudica’ developed its traps underground as a survival strategy, since it grows on the tops of relatively dry rocks, at an altitude of between 1,100 and 1,300 meters above sea level.
“Our The hypothesis is that underground cavities have more stable environmental conditions, including humidity, and presumably there are also more potential prey during dry periods,” explained Michal Golos, co-author of the publication.
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