Saturday, December 08, 2007

Madagascar star orchid and the giant hawk moth of Madagascar

"The Madagascar star orchid produces nectar at the bottom part of its slim, foot-long throat. After observing a specimen, Charles Darwin predicted the
existence of a moth with a proboscis long enough to reach that nectar... decades later the giant hawk moth of Madagascar was discovered and named
Xanthopan morganii praedicta in honor of Darwin's prescience.

As the moth sucks up the nutrient-rich nectar from the orchid, packets of pollen stick to its body. When the moth visits other star orchids to feed
again, the pollen rubs off and pollinates those orchids. The moth gets exclusive access to food and the orchids get a reliable pollinator.

... "Partners in Evolution: Butterflies & Plants" exhibit coming to the National Museum of Natural History in February will explore how animals and
plants evolve in response to one another, a process that biologists call co-evolution...

about 100 million years ago, plants with bowl-shaped flowers emerged with a... food source for moths: nectar...

Bats pollinate more than 300 kinds of plants used by humans; pollination by bees, flies, beetles and other insects is responsible for providing about one-third of the human diet...

The... exhibit will illuminate some of the... dynamics of... co-evolution. For example, in one species of fly, various flowers leave pollen on
different parts of the fly's body?ensuring that different pollens don't mix"


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