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Carnivorous Plant Uses Sonar To Attract Bat Defecation, Study Finds

Barneo’s swamp is not necessarily full of ideal sleeping places for its Kervivoula hardwickii woolly bats. Fortunately for the bats, they have formed a reciprocal relationship with a plant called Nepenthes hemsleyana – a carnivorous pitcher plant that feeds on bat poop.

The pitcher shape of the plant is meant to catch prey for the flesh-eating blooms. This unique shape reflects sound, which allows bats to find them using echolocation. Instead of trapping insects for food, the plants serve as a sleeping domicile for the bats, who in turn poop inside the plant. The plant feeds on the bat poop, reports NBC news. The bat poop, or guano, is rich in nitrogen, a nutrient crucial to plants.

Michael Schoner of Enrst-Mortiz-Arndt University of Greifswald in Germany co-authored the study on the mutually beneficial relationship, which was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

The research explains how the pitcher plants are surviving in spite of catching far less insects than other carnivorous plants in the area. Similarly, the Nepenthes Iowii, another pitcher plant in Borne, survives on shrew poop.

“One-third of the nitrogen which is gained by the pitcher plants is arriving from the bat species,” said Schoner.

Tech Times reports the mutually beneficial relationship is an example of how nature uses evolution to solve survival problems.

Many plants have reversed the system of how animals feed on them for survival, but “it is even more astonishing that in the case of N. hemsleyana the system is taking a new turn,” said Schoner.

Carnivorous plants in general have already solved the problem of nutrient deficiency in a very unusual way by reversing the ‘normal system’ of animals feeding on plants. It is even more astonishing that in the case of N. hemsleyana the system is taking a new turn.

While bat poop might prove nutritional for these pitcher plants, another unrelated study has shown that cat poop can literally drive humans crazy.

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