Holy crap, you guys, nature is amazeballs. If you need a reminder, and we all do sometimes, the above video should do the trick. It’s footage of a diving ant, Camponotus schmitzi, hunting a mosquito larva, and it’s better than any UFC match you are ever likely to see, not least because the whole thing takes place in the mouth of a carnivorous pitcher plant. To compete, Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez would have to hold their next match in the mouth of a shark the size of a small house. Don’t get me wrong — I would love to see that. I just don’t like our odds a ton.
The video was taken as supplemental material for a paper published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, which puts the fight in context as one more aspect of the complicated ecosystems that carnivorous plants host inside them. Researchers studying the pitcher plant Nepenthes bicalcarata — which leaves that resemble the fangs of a snake, lest you forget it is carnivorous — in the jungle of Borneo were healthier when they were populated by colonies of diving ants.
This video may demonstrate why. Far from damaging the plant, these diving ants actually offer it a housekeeping service. The insects hunt down and remove moochers like this mosquito larva, which live inside the plant, sucking up nutrients and providing it no benefits. By 86ing freeloaders, the ants get a meal and the plant keeps operating at peak efficiency without giving any lazy mosquito larvae a free ride.
Like I said — nature is amazeballs.
(via PLOS ONE)
- Carnivorous plants may be killers, but they’re also homes to a lot of tiny fauna
- If they’re overfed on nitrogen, carnivorous plants get lazy and boring
- Wheeeee, a water slide…oh, crap.