- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Plant uses chemical weapons to make mice spit out its seeds
A desert mouse has found a seed. It bites into it, and gets a pungent mouthful of mustard. Reeling from the chemical party in its mouth, its spits out the seed and unwittingly helps the seed’s producer – a Israeli desert plant called Ochradenus baccatus. By using chemical weapons, it converts rodents into an unwitting vehicles for its seeds.
Michal Samuni-Blank from the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Israel filmed the spitting mice using motion-activated cameras in the Israeli desert. The mice would carry away clusters of fruit to eat them in sheltered rocky crevices. Once they got a mouthful, they spit out more than two-thirds of the pungent seeds. If Samuni-Blank treated the seeds to deactivate their stash of