The world is full of strange plants and animals like the duckbilled platypus or sea cucumbers that turn themselves inside out when threatened or plants that attract insects so they can devour them. I love reading and studying about odd plants and animals, especially those that defy an evolutionary explanation. I see them as testimonies to God’s infinite wisdom, love of variety and it sometimes makes me believe He has a sense of humor.
Recently, a team of Dutch and Malaysian scientists made a trip to study the plants and animals in the area surrounding Mount Kinabalu, the highest point on the island of Borneo. They collected DNA samples for over 1,400 species of fungi, plants and animals. Through all of their study, they have been discovered over 150 previously unknown species including mushrooms, ferns, snails, termites, damselflies, beetles, spiders and a frog.
With so many new species identified, one would expect a few odd balls or strange species and if in fact there were.
Among those new strange and different finds were two species of fungi that glowed in the dark. One of the team members, Luis Morgado commented about the bioluminescent mushrooms they found saying:
Glowing mushrooms are rare but they do exist outside the psychedelic world. During daytime one might pass by and even photograph them without knowing it, but only a nocturnal excursion reveals this incredible phenomenon that remains hidden in plain daylight.
Another oddity were the stalk-eyed flies whose eyes are mounted on long stalks. Some of the eye stalks were longer than the overall length of the flies. While observing these strange looking flies, the scientists learned that the males with the longest eye stalks seem to attract more females.
Perhaps one of the oddest discoveries was the Nepenthes lowii pitcher plant. Most pitcher plants attract a variety of insects with their fragrances and then trap them inside the pitcher part of the plant where they are slowly digested by the plants juices. But this particular pitcher plant has a different strategy to add nitrogen to its diet. The plant exudes its nectar around the top of the pitcher. The nectar attracts small mammals like the mountain tree shrew. The shrew sits over the top of the pitcher to feed on the nectar. While doing so, the shrew poops into the pitcher. The plants digestive juices break down the shrew’s poop into much needed nutrients, especially nitrogen.
Rachel Schwallier, one of the research team commented about the pitcher plant saying:
What an awesome strategy for nutrients!
I love comments like this from an evolutionary scientist as it makes it sound like the pitcher plant planned this unique strategy to take advantage of the shrew poop. Yet, they consistently deny that any intelligence or supernatural being is responsible for the creation of life and things like glow in the dark mushrooms, stalk-eyed flies and poop eating plants. This is why I love these kinds of strange animals and plants and it’s also why I believe God has a sense of humor as He has to smile every time another is discovered.
Gannon, Megan. Glowing Mushrooms, Stalk-Eyed Bugs & Plant Toilet Found in Borneo, Live Science, Oct. 4, 2012.
By Ryan Jaroncyk
Illustrated by Lisa Sodera
Join Arkie the Archaeopteryx as he flies through an ancient jungle and meets many unique creatures that are also not missing links. This delightful adventure helps children look at the natural world through a biblical lens, giving glory to God.
Hardback, 48 pages