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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Video: Drip, Drip, Snatch!
13 June 2012 5:00 pm
When it rains, sometimes it's better to just get wet—especially when staying dry could mean being digested alive. That's the hard lesson for insects hiding from showers underneath the lid of the slender pitcher plant (Nepenthes gracilis). During a downpour, the carnivorous plants, native to the Sunda region of Southeast Asia, rely on heavy raindrops crashing on top of their lids to help catapult shelter-seeking insects into their tube-shaped, fluid-filled leaves, researchers report online today in PLoS ONE. Like a diver jumping on a swimming pool springboard, the pounding raindrops create vibrations throughout the lid that launch insects off its underside and directly into an awaiting acid bath. Previously, scientists thought the lid simply prevented rainwater from diluting the leaf's digestive pool. But upon further investigation, researchers realized the structure's prey-capturing function. The underside of the lid has evolved to be covered with wax crystals which interfere with the adhesive pads found on an insect's feet. The wax crystal layer is only semislippery, so when nothing is hitting the lid, an insect has little problem crawling upside down on it, and will often do so to collect nectar. But with sudden impacts like rainfall, an insect easily loses its footing on the surface—literally falling victim to the pitcher's fatal trap.
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