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Old 15th March 2010, 11:56 AM
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Default NST Article: Tasty deal... tree shrews pitch in

An article on Dr. Charles findings that N. lowii gets its nutrients from tree shrews' excrement. This was on forums some time back but having it publish in NST is a good promotion for Nepenthes. The pictures in the article are from Ch'ien Lee.


New Straits Times newspaper
Page 14: Nation
Monday, March 15, 2010
Article By: Evangeline Majawat

Name:  neps arti on NST - 15 Mar 10 crop.JPG
Views: 755
Size:  157.9 KB

The text taken from NST Online. Kinda difficult to read from the scanned picture above...

KUALA LUMPUR: Potty training is a breeze for tree shrews (Tupaia montana) as they answer nature's calls perched delicately on the odd-looking pitcher plant. The world's biggest carnivorous plant, the Nepenthes rajah, comes in handy as toilet for the small mammals, a new research has found. The shrew's excrement is food for N. rajah and two other species of pitcher plants, the Nepenthes lowii and Nepenthes macrophylla, all found only in Borneo. The nutrient-rich droppings supply important minerals to the plants. In return, the plants secrete a tasty nectar that the shrews love. So, those furry creatures can feed and defecate at the same time.

Ecologist Dr Charles Clarke and his student Chin Lijin, from Monash University Sunway campus, made the astonishing discovery last year at Mount Kinabalu. "It's nature's toilet. It's a great discovery to make, which comes 150 years after N. rajah was first described. "We've never understood why it has big pitchers, and so the finding is really good," Clarke told the New Straits Times.

Their finding, which was published in the journal New Phytologist earlier this year, busted the myth that larger pitcher plants depended on small animals for survival. For a long time, N. rajah, believed to be the biggest meat-eating plant in the world, was reputed to trap small vertebrates. "Actually, it was assumed it catches insects. Just occasionally, dead mice and rats have been found in the pitcher plants. It doesn't need big pitchers to catch large insects," said Clarke.

Last year, he suggested that Chin study the pitcher plants, known locally as periuk kera, because "nobody has looked at it in detail". It wasn't long into their four-month research that they realised the three species of pitcher plants rarely caught small animals. "When we studied the contents, we noticed tree shrew poo," said Clarke. He knew from an earlier research that N. lowii was designed specifically to collect the shrews' faeces.

The duo confirmed their suspicion on the other two species when cameras caught the shrews in the act on their "thrones". The result pleased them. "At least half, and possibly 100 per cent of N. lowii's nutrients come from the tree shrews," Clarke said. As for the other two species, they supplement their diets with insects.

For Chin, this turned out to be her lucky break in her first attempt at scientific discovery. She said she hoped the findings would add conservation value to the rare pitcher plants. "By understanding the species more, it'll provide more information to (afford) better protection of its habitats. N. lowii looks exactly like our toilet! It's amazing."
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Old 15th March 2010, 02:19 PM
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Default Re: NST Article: Tasty deal... tree shrews pitch in

lol, you mean tree shrews do their "usual business" in the pitcher then drink nectar from the pitcher? Pity the poor monkeys who drank from their "cup"
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Old 15th March 2010, 02:55 PM
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Default Re: NST Article: Tasty deal... tree shrews pitch in

This is the link to BBC on this topic with more details.... http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8552000/8552157.stm
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Old 16th March 2010, 10:51 AM
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Default Re: NST Article: Tasty deal... tree shrews pitch in

N.rajah also eat shi*? O.O Never knew that
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