Snippets From Science

Door County has several kinds of carnivorous plants, including the Pitcher Plant, which can be seen at The Ridges Sanctuary. The Pitcher Plant uses odor and color to lure flies and other small insects into its trumpet-shaped leaf, which is lined with downward directed hairs and a sticky secretion. The four to five inch long leaves have water at the bottom into which digestive juices are secreted. Once an insect is lured into the leaf, it can’t escape and ends up in the puddle of digestive juices at the bottom of the trumpet. Recently a team of botanists discovered a giant Pitcher Plant in the Philippines. Its trumpet-shaped leaf is almost a foot long and about six inches in diameter. Wasps, large beetles, and bees were found in various states of digestion. (Science, 2009)

• Did you know? An ostrich’s eye is larger than its brain. Ten percent of all humans who ever lived are alive right now. Your brain uses 20 percent of your total oxygen supply even when you are at rest. The neck of an adult giraffe has a nerve cell that is 15 ft. long. Multiple-choice question:  What’s the world’s most dangerous animal? Is it the spitting cobra, rhinoceros, polar bear, great white shark or mosquito? Most scientists would argue that it is the mosquito, vector (carrier) of disease agents that annually kill thousands and thousands of people. (

• Small, eel-like fish called Candiru (Vandellia cirrhosa), or toothpick fish, live in the Amazon River (Brazil). They have translucent bodies, one-to-six-inches long, and are blood-sucking parasites. Their feeding habits include swimming into and lodging in the gill openings of other fish, where the backward spines on their gill covers prevent them from becoming dislodged. The fish then gnaw into the gills of the prey and ingest blood. The Candiru fish is also known to enter the body orfices of humans bathing or swimming in the river, especially if the individual in the water urinates. In a male human, these fish are known to enter and become lodged in the penis, causing tremendous pain and even death. (various sources, including Dr. Luis Rivas, U. of Miami; for more info, Google “Candiru”)

• Attention Deficit Syndrome (ADD) affects many children. Among those with ADD, about 9 percent of boys and 4 percent of girls are treated with stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, usually with good results in terms of improvement in behavior. Recent studies of brain scans show no evidence that these stimulants have adverse effects on brain structure; in fact, a recent report in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that medication may have a beneficial effect in terms of “normalizing” maturation of the brain cortex. (Dana Foundation Neuroscience Newsletter, Spring 2009)

• Do mammals have emotions? Draw your own conclusion. “On August 19, 1996, a toddler fell eighteen feet into the moat surrounding the gorilla exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, and eight-year-old female lowland gorilla named Binti Tua kept the other gorillas away from the unconscious child, then gently picked him up and delivered him to the keepers who had rushed to the service gate of the exhibit.” (The Parrot’s Lament by Eugene Linden)