A Bats Eye View of the Pitcher

My observation of an Oregon Grape coming into flower early in a sheltered spot behind a public toilet pales beside those made by Dr. Grafe whilst working in Borneo.

Last year, Drs. Clarke and Moran of Monash and Royal Roads University respectively, observed that the largest pitcher plant (N.rajah) was set up as a complete restaurant facility for tree shrews. It serves nectar to the hungry shrews and while there the diners make use of the large pitcher as a bathroom facility. N.rajah is content to be paid in nitrogen rich deposits, which they conveniently re-cycle. Dr. Grafe was interested in a different pitcher plant, N.rafflesiana elongata, which has an entirely different shape being much longer than N.rajah. This one doesn’t serve a breakfast of nectar but does provide a bedroom for wooly bats, with en suite facilities of course. Again payment of the daily rate is in the same currency. The bats however get a bonus for staying. The plant takes care of some of the parasites living in the bats fur. No fear of bed bugs if your bed is carnivorous.

Another interesting report in the latest BBC News e-zine was on the chirality of life. If we synthesize the amino acids that make up DNA, we have an equal mixture of right and left hand twists. Are bodies are very picky and will only accept the left-handed forms. Now roaring around the cosmos are meteorites with the ingredients for the amino acids mixed in a frozen form, which react under the influence of ultra violet light that has been circularly polarized. This results in a small preponderance of the left-handed molecules. However, I wouldn’t wish to jump to the extraterrestrial conclusion that ‘Men are from Mars & Women are from Venus’.

One Response so far.

  1. jazgal says:

    Truly amazing how the species interact and support each other. Here's to Nature's barter system!

    As to chirality, (and i did have to look that one up), how fascinating that there is handedness even in molecules! Maybe that jump isn't so huge?

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