- Not Exactly Rocket Science
With Sonar-Reflecting Leaves, Plant Lures Bats to Poo in it
Imagine a bat flying through the jungle of Borneo. It calls out to find a place to spend the night. And a plant calls back.
The plant in question is Nepenthes hemsleyana—a flesh-eating plant that’s terrible at eating flesh. It’s a pitcher plant and like all its kin, its leaves are shaped like upright vases. They’re meant to be traps. Insects should investigate them, tumble off the slippery rim, and drown in the pool of liquid within the pitcher. The pitcher then releases digestive enzymes to break down the corpses and absorb their nitrogen—a resource that’s in short supply in the swampy soils where these plants grow.
But N.hemsleyana has very big pitchers that are oddly short of fluid and that don’t