There have been lots of scientific investigations this summer, and not just at our summer camps. Several interesting pieces of news have recently come to light.
A giant tortoise was filmed hunting and chasing baby birds. Most don’t think of tortoises as aggressive or hunters. In fact, when asked about what tortoises and turtles eat, most people think about berries or leaves. But the truth is turtles are omnivores and several turtles like to eat eggs. Tortoises are thought to be herbivores, but they have been seen eating egg shells and old bones. No one thought that giant tortoises, which are typically slow movers, would hunt down prey. This video leaves scientists with a lot of questions.
Another unexpected carnivore was found in a well-known wildflower, a species of false asphodel. Scientists have known about this flower since the 19th century, and this isn’t the first they’ve noticed the sticky hairs. Many plants have sticky hairs as a defense. But this flower shares some other traits with carnivorous plants like the Venus fly trap. It loves bright, boggy habitats that don’t often have the nutrients it needs. It is also lacking a gene that helps use light to make food. The hairs seem to trap a lot of fruit flies, and under their tests, scientists found the fruit flies provided more than half of the flower’s nitrogen. The hairs ooze an enzyme created by many carnivorous plants called phosphatase.
There may be good news for Earth’s oceans, as a recent study suggested that probiotics might help coral survive the stress of warming waters. This tests is still in its early phases, but it will be interesting to see where it leads.
Finally, check out these pictures collected by Science News of some of the work done by the Perseverance Rover.