Rare rat-eating plant found in Palawan
|Posted by Manila Mail under Articles/Stories|
PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – British and Filipino scientists have discovered a plant in the mountain of Palawan that feeds by luring and consuming rats.
Botanists Stewart McPherson and Alastair Robinson said the plant, dubbed Nepenthes attenboroughii after legendary wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough consumes “whole rats” by luring them into its mouth and dissolving them with acid-like enzymes.
“The plant produces spectacular traps which catch not only insects, but also rodents,” McPherson told London’s The Sun in an exclusive interview. “It is remarkable that it remained undiscovered until the 21st century.”
McPherson and Robinson said their team, which included a Filipino researcher, found the plant on Mount Victoria after hearing accounts of the shrub’s eating habits from missionaries.
“My team and I named it in honor of Sir David whose work has inspired generations toward a better understanding of the beauty and diversity of the natural world,” McPherson said.
The plant is a specie of the carnivorous pitcher plants. These plants lure insects into examining the inside from the inside and then trap and eat them.
Pitcher plants belong to several different genera, including Nepenthes, and some 16 different Nepenthes pitcher plant species one already named for this country are native to the Philippines.
Reinforcing the nation’s title as the region with the third-largest collection of Nepenthes diversity, this time the British and Filipino researchers have identified this new pitcher plant species on Mount Victoria in Palawan.
In the February issue of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, researchers from England’s University of Cambridge, Germany’s LMU Munich and the Philippines’ Palawan State University reported the finding of the plant within a 10-square-kilometer region of Mount Victoria.
This new species has larger pitchers compared to other pitcher plants found in the area, and the pitchers aren’t as rounded, being shaped more like trumpets.
When it came to naming the new species, it seemed fitting that the name should have significance to both nations represented.
“We have chosen to name this species after the [British] broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, whose astounding television documentaries have made the world’s natural history accessible and understandable to millions,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
“As a keen enthusiast of the genus and a patron of Philippine conservation efforts, it is fitting that this spectacular new species be dedicated to him on the occasion of his 80th birthday.”
While N. attenboroughii was found on Mount Victoria, researchers have also found it in a few areas throughout Palawan.