Your Curmudgeon delights in telling you about new evidence of intelligent design (ID), and today we have yet another striking example. The last time we were able to do this was Fossilized Dung Balls: A Dung-Based Ecosystem; and this is our classic ID post: Intelligent Design: The Dung Beetle’s Tale.
Now that we have stimulated your appetite for more of the same, we present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Resident bats use pitcher plant as toilet, which appears at the excellent website, PhysOrg. The bold font was added by us:
The pitcher plants are carnivorous species that usually feed on insects and small vertebrates, but one species has been found that prefers to dine on the feces of bats.
That is exciting news! Let’s read on:
Scientists from the University Brunei Darussalam and from Germany have been studying the aerial pitcher plant Nepenthes rafflesiana variety elongata, from Borneo. The plants live in peat bogs and heaths and are notable for their extremely large aerial pitchers.
Carnivorous plants are always interesting. Here’s a Wikipedia article on this particular species: Nepenthes rafflesiana. We continue with the PhysOrg article:
Pitcher plants grow on nutrient-poor soils and supplement their nitrogen source by feeding on insects and small animals. The victims are attracted to the pitcher by its colors and smells, but once inside they are trapped on the slippery sides and are drawn into the fluid at the bottom where they drown. The fluid contains digestive enzymes to extract nitrogen and other needed nutrients as the bodies are digested.
Isn’t nature grand? Here’s more:
Instead of insects in the large pitchers, the researchers, led by tropical ecologist Dr. Ulmar Grafe, sometimes found roosting bats. …
The Elongata pitchers are perfectly suited to their residents, with a girdle half-way up to ensure they do not slip down the sides, and there is little fluid and so no chance of being drowned if they did slip.
Okay, so the bats live in pitcher plants. But you’re wondering: What’s the big deal here? Where’s the ID? You’ll see soon enough. Let’s move along:
The researchers found that about 33.8 percent of the foliar nitrogen in the pitcher plants originated in the feces of the bats, and the level of nitrogen was much higher than in pitchers of the same species that did not have a resident bat.
How wonderful — now that’s intelligent design! Here’s a link to the published paper: A novel resource–service mutualism between bats and pitcher plants. One more excerpt from PhysOrg:
The bat also benefits from the association because it is sheltered and hidden from predators when it is nestled within the pitcher. Dr. Grafe said the environment within the pitcher is also free of the parasites that often live in bat roosts.
A mutually beneficial arrangement. Verily, the implications for intelligent design are overwhelming.
And we leave you with a lingering question — something to keep you busy over the weekend: If a bat that feeds on blood is a vampire, what should we call these plants that feed on bat dung? (Please, dear reader, your suggestions should be … tasteful.)
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