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NANOFLIGHT (R) MOVIE, STEFAN DILLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NANOFLIGHT (R) MOVIE, STEFAN DILLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Scanning electron microscope view of the trap of a pitcher plant, or monkey cup (Nepenthes sp.). This is a carnivorous plant that traps insects and other small animals inside a deep, fluid-filled cup. The first part of the clip shows the top of this trap, which has a flat lid (operculum) above its opening, to prevent it filling with rainwater. The view then tracks down to show the opening itself, before closing on the smooth lip of the trap, called the peristome. This is colorful and contains glands that secrete an attractive nectar. It is also very slippery, and attracted insects find it difficult to maintain their footing, and can fall into the inside of the trap. The trap contains a sticky liquid and digestive enzymes, which break down the prey and allow nutrients to be absorbed from it. Nepenthes pitcher plants are climbing vines that inhabit the tropical jungles of South-East Asia.
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