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Plant That Eats Things Underground Found in Brazil July 6, 2012
Philcoxia minensis
Top: Philcoxia minensis has flowers above the ground, but its sticky leaves in the soil can trap and eat worms. Below: a close-up view of one of the sticky leaves where a grain of sand (left arrow) is stuck alongside a roundworn (right arrow).
Researchers say they have found three new types of carnivorous plants in Brazil that trap and consume their prey underground.

The plants are relatives of the common snapdragon and have a unique network of sticky leaves that hide beneath the surface.

Those leaves trap worms and other creatures, which are then digested by the plants’ powerful enzymes.

“The first time I saw these plants I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said lead researcher Peter Fritsch, from the California Academy of Sciences.

Fritsch says there could be many other undiscovered species that use this same method to kill and consume their food.

The plants — Philcoxia minensis, Philcoxia goiasensis and Philcoxia bahiensis — are all extremely rare and found only in the Brazilian high savannah.

Photo: PNAS