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Why does Venus fly trap matter to scientists?
Question Date: 2017-05-30
Answer 1:

Thank you for your question!

Venus fly traps are carnivorous plants that fascinate non-scientists and scientists alike. These plants live in nutrient-poor soils, so as a survival tactic, they capture and ingest arthropods (mostly ants and spiders!) to supplement their nutritional needs. Since the soils don't provide enough nutrients, this plant takes advantage of the numerous insects crawling around on the ground and the plant by capturing bugs in the "mouth" of this plant, which is actually a modification at the end of their leaves. However, scientists don't fully understand how they close their mouths shut, but hypothesize a change in fluid pressure triggered by electrical impulses on the tiny "hairs" in the "mouth". Did you know the Venus fly trap is a flowering plant? Beautiful! You can read more about this interesting plant here:
Venus fly trap1
and
Venus fly trap2

Cheers,

Answer 2:

Venus fly traps are plants. They show us a few things about how evolution works, about how soil chemistry works, and so on, but despite being wonderful and amazing like all living things, I'm not sure they are of any particular importance above many other types of plants.


Answer 3:

The Venus fly trap's 'jaws' move shut when an insect lands in its 'mouth.' Lots of animals do that, but the Venus fly trap may be the only plant that does. It's like the Venus fly trap has a muscle, but plants don't have muscles like animals. I wonder what kinds of molecules in the Venus fly trap make it shut on an insect.

Also, the Venus fly trap is a meat-eating plant, because it eats insects, which are animals. There are only a few meat-eating plants. Do you suppose they have protein enzymes to digest the meat that are like the enzymes that digest the meat we eat? That's another interesting question.

People tend to be interested in things that are unusual.



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