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Top 10 New Species

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Sir Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant

Name:  Nepenthes attenboroughii
Common Name:  None
Family:  Nepenthaceae

Carnivorous plants, how ironic is that? Most plants absorb nitrogen from the soil through their roots, but carnivorous plants absorb nitrogen from their animal prey through leaves that have been specially modified as traps. Pitcher plants trap insects in folded leaves that create deep, slippery pools filled with digestive enzymes. Nepenthes attenboroughii is special because it is one of the largest pitchers, almost the size of an American football.  Endemic to the island of Palawan, Philippines, it has only been found in one location–and such has been suggested for Red Listing as Critically Endangered.

Etymology:  “The specific epithet, attenboroughii, is a commemorative, genitive noun in apposition taken from the patronym Attenborough. We have chosen to name this species after broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, whose outstanding television documentaries have made the world’s natural history accessible and understandable to millions.  As a keen enthusiast of the genus and a patron of Philippine conservation efforts, it is fitting that this spectacular new species be dedicated to him on the occasion of his 80th birthday.”

Photo: Alastair S. Robinson

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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2:56PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Weird, bizarre--but the sea slug is cute.
Thanks for an interesting article.

2:44PM PDT on May 29, 2011

Really cool, and some gorgeous pictures!
Thank you Melissa.

2:07AM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

Thanks for all the awesome information & pictures. hopefully i don't come across the killer sponge when i am at the beach! my daughter just asked what they were (thankfully she doesn't realise they are in NZ) & said 'so they are not like Sponge Bob Square Pants that catches jellyfish?' :-)

10:53PM PST on Feb 25, 2011


1:28AM PST on Jan 21, 2011

Beautiful pictures...noted, thank you for sharing.

1:01PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Thanks so much Melissa for this educational read. If we could only leave nature alone as it is so wonderous what it can do.
Carniferous Sponges!, The Attenborough Carniferous Plant and the sharp toothed Minnows.... WOW Also the New Kind of Yam... hope it doesn't get over harvested!

12:36PM PST on Dec 3, 2010


5:31AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

... Very nice article! Nature never ceases to amaze and impress me!

10:29PM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Beautiful adaptations!

4:53AM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

This is so amazing, Nautre keeps creating and creating.Meanwhile the human race destroys...............

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