Some carnivorous plants have evolved to eat poo instead of insects. And they do better.

pitcher plant Nepenthes macrophylla with animal droppings stuck to the side of its tubular trap. (Image credit: Alastair Robinson)

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A group of ancient carnivorous plants have given up on catching scary critters and instead feed on animal droppings. And it turns out these living toilets are getting more nutrients from their new diet than their insect-eating cousins, according to a new study.

Genus tropical pitcher plants Nepenthe are carnivorous plants with large, fluid-filled tubes which they use to trap a wide range of prey, including insects such as antsand arachnids like spiders and scorpions, as well as sometimes larger creatures like frogs or small rodents. The animal feed of plants provides them with additional nutrients, mainly nitrogen, as well as phosphorus and carbon – which helps supplement their growth in nutrient-poor soils.

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