I am a meat popsicle
- Sep 18, 2001
- Reaction score
- Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
Here's a little more I've found:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/madagascar ... ghts2.html
For the most part the aforementioned are mere annoyances, but there are other things in Madagascar that can make you twitch your last.
The most notorious is the so-called man-eating tree of Madagascar. The first European description of this bulbous tree, a kind of elephantine Venus flytrap, appeared in the South Australian Register of 1881. In horrifying detail, the author tells how he watched aghast as members of the Mkodo tribe offered a woman in sacrifice to the dreaded tree, whose white, transparent leaves reminded him of the quivering mouthparts of an insect:
The slender delicate palpi, with the fury of starved serpents, quivered a moment over her head, then as if instinct with demoniac intelligence fastened upon her in sudden coils round and round her neck and arms; then while her awful screams and yet more awful laughter rose wildly to be instantly strangled down again into a gurgling moan, the tendrils one after another, like great green serpents, with brutal energy and infernal rapidity, rose, retracted themselves, and wrapped her about in fold after fold, ever tightening with cruel swiftness and savage tenacity of anacondas fastening upon their prey.Never fear. Despite decades of speculation, which included the 1924 book Madagascar, Land of the Man-Eating Tree, no one has ever again laid eyes on this carnivorous horror, nor on the Mkodo tribe for that matter, and today most consider the story a fabrication, if a gruesomely good one.
A MAN-EATING PLANT
Travelers have told us of a plant, which they assert grows in Central Africa and also in South America, that is not contented with the myriad of large insects which it catches and consumes, but its voracity extends to making even humans its prey. This marvelous vegetable Minotaur is represented as having a short, thick trunk, from the top of which radiate giant spines, narrow and flexible, but of extraordinary tenaciousness, the edges of which are armed with barbs, or dagger-like teeth. Instead of growing upright, or at an inclined angle from the trunk, these spines lay their outer ends upon the ground, and so gracefully are they distributed that the trunk resembles an easy couch with green drapery around it. The unfortunate traveler, ignorant of the monstrous creation which lies in his way, and curious to examine the strange plant, or to rest himself upon its inviting stalk approaches without a suspicion of his certain doom. The moment his feet are set within the circle of the horrid spines, they rise up, like gigantic serpents, and entwine themselves about him until he is drawn upon the stump, when they speedily drive their daggers into his body and thus complete the massacre. The body is crushed until every drop of blood is squeezed out of it and becomes absorbed by the gore-loving plant, when the dry carcass is thrown out and the horrid trap set again.
A gentleman of my acquaintance, who, for a long time, resided in Central America, affirms the existence of such a plant as I have here briefly described, except that instead of the filaments, or spines, resting on the ground he says they move themselves constantly in the air, like so many huge serpents in an angry discussion, occasionally darting from side to side as if striking at an imaginary foe. When their prey comes within reach the spines reach out with wonderful sagacity (if I may be allowed to apply the expression to a vegetable creature), and grasp it in an unyielding embrace, from whence it issues only when all the substance of its body is yielded up. In its action of ex- erting pressure upon its prey, this dreadful plant resembles the instrument used in the dark ages for inflicting a torturous death. It was made of two long iron cylinders, on the inside of which were sharp, projecting pikes. The victim was placed inside, and the two cylinders then brought forcibly together, thus driving a hundred or more of the pointed pikes into all parts of his body and producing a frightful death. Generally this inquisitorial instrument was made, somewhat crudely, to represent a woman, hence the name applied to it was " The Maiden," by which it is still known.
Dr. Antonio Jose Marquez, a distinguished gentleman of the city of Barranguilla, in the United States of Colombia, in describing this wonderful plant to the author, affirms that when excited it violently agitates its long, tentacle-like stems, the edges of which., rasping upon each other, produce a hissing noise which resembles the Spanish expression, ya-te-veo, the literal translation of which is " I see you." The plant is therefore known, in South America, by the name Yateveo. He further asserts that so poisonous are the stems that if the flesh of any animal be punctured by the sharp barbs, a rapidly-eating ulcer immediately forms, for which there is no known antidote, and death speedily ensues.
It is a singular thing, and much to be deplored, if such a voracious plant exists, that we can find no description of it in the most elaborate works on botany ; and yet hundreds of responsible travelers declare they have frequently seen it, and not only watched it when in a nor- mal condition, but one African explorer declares he once witnessed the destruction of a native who was accidentally caught by one. It has also been asserted that in the Fan country of Africa, criminals and those convicted of practicing witchcraft, are sometimes fed alive to this man-eating plant. All of which, however, I am inclined to doubt ; not that there is no foundation for such statements as travelers sometimes make about this astonishing growth, but that the facts are greatly exaggerated.
I found this further description by Carle Liche on a similar thread to this on another website. ...
The article was reprinted around the world. Some publications cited The World; others did not. Some of them called the story a fabrication; many did not.
In August 1888, a new periodical in New York, Current Literature, blew the whistle on the man-eating-tree story. “It was written years ago by Mr. Edmund Spencer for the N.Y. World,” the magazine said, adding that he had died about 1886. “Mr. Spencer was a master of the horrible, some of his stories approaching closely to those of Poe in this regard,” it said.
That should have been that. But a curious thing happened. Nobody cared about Current Literature’s exposé, which was soon forgotten. The World’s article continued to be reprinted. Soon, even its origin in The World was forgotten; Crinoida dajeeana had taken on a life of its own.
At the weekend I bought some old books, including a couple of lovely bound editions of magazines. One has an account of a ceremonial sacrifice of a woman to a carnivorous tree in Madagascar. If anyone's interested I'll scan and post it. Sadly there's no illustration.
Killer plant 'eats' great tit at Somerset nursery
A plant has killed and "eaten" a great tit at a garden nursery in Somerset.
Nurseryman Nigel Hewitt-Cooper, from West Pennard, was inspecting his tropical garden when he discovered one of his pitcher plants had trapped the bird. ...
"The larger ones frequently take frogs, lizards and mice, and the biggest ones have been found with rats in them, but to find a bird in one is pretty unusual."
Bug-eating pitcher plants found to consume young salamanders, too
Date:June 7, 2019 Source: University of Guelph Summary: Pitcher plants growing in wetlands across Canada have long been known to eat creatures -- mostly insects and spiders -- that fall into their bell-shaped leaves and decompose in rainwater collected there. But researchers have discovered that vertebrates -- specifically, salamanders -- are also part of their diet.
... In what is believed to be a first for North America, biologists at the University of Guelph have discovered that meat-eating pitcher plants in Ontario's Algonquin Park wetlands consume not just bugs but also young salamanders. ...
Pitcher plants growing in wetlands across Canada have long been known to eat creatures -- mostly insects and spiders -- that fall into their bell-shaped leaves and decompose in rainwater collected there.
But until now, no one had reported this salamander species caught by a pitcher plant in North America, ...
Monitoring pitcher plants around a single pond in the park in fall 2018, the team found almost one in five contained the juvenile amphibians, each about as long as a human finger. Several plants contained more than one captured salamander. ...
Meat-eating pitcher plants have been known since the eighteenth century. One species discovered a decade ago in Asia consumes mostly insects and spiders but also captures small birds and mice. ...
Here's how plants became meat eaters
About 70 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, a genetic anomaly allowed some plants to turn into meat eaters. This was done in part, with a stealthy trick: repurposing genes meant for their roots and leaves and using them instead to catch prey, a new study finds.
This step is one of three that some non-carnivorous plants took over tens of millions of years to allow them to turn into hungry carnivores, the researchers said.
The meat-eating shift gave these plants a number of advantages. In effect, "carnivorous plants have turned the tables by capturing and consuming nutrient-rich animal prey, enabling them to thrive in nutrient-poor soil," the researchers wrote in the study, published online May 14 in the journal Current Biology. ...
Most plants grow and develop by taking up nutrients from the soil while continuously under threat from foraging animals. Carnivorous plants have turned the tables by capturing and consuming nutrient-rich animal prey, enabling them to thrive in nutrient-poor soil. To better understand the evolution of botanical carnivory, we compared the draft genome of the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) with that of its aquatic sister, the waterwheel plant Aldrovanda vesiculosa, and the sundew Drosera spatulata. We identified an early whole-genome duplication in the family as source for carnivory-associated genes. Recruitment of genes to the trap from the root especially was a major mechanism in the evolution of carnivory, supported by family-specific duplications. Still, these genomes belong to the gene poorest land plants sequenced thus far, suggesting reduction of selective pressure on different processes, including non-carnivorous nutrient acquisition. Our results show how non-carnivorous plants evolved into the most skillful green hunters on the planet.