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In Brazil, Scientists Discover Unknown Carnivorous Plant


Now a scientific discovery found adrift in a sea of selfies and party pictures on social media. Last year, Brazilian botanist Paolo Gonella was online.

PAOLO GONELLA: It was just a normal day. I was on Facebook checking the news on my newsfeed. And then I saw this photograph.

MONTAGNE: It was a picture of a plant he'd never come across. A fellow plant enthusiast had taken the photo while hiking on a mountain in southeastern Brazil.


A few months later, Gonella and some colleagues returned to that mountain to find the unidentified plant. And right away, they knew it was something they'd never seen before.

GONELLA: The colors are amazing, very showy compared to the rest of the vegetation. So it has a really nice red color with glistening tentacles.

GREENE: Those bright tentacles were covered in a sticky glue that helps this plant ensnare unfortunate insects. Gonella and his team took specimens and confirmed that it was a new species.

MONTAGNE: They named it the magnificent sundew and published their findings in the scientific journal Phytotaxa. Even though it's one of the largest carnivorous plants in the Americas, Gonella says people have nothing to fear.

GONELLA: It can capture dragonflies and butterflies and bees, but it's not very dangerous to most animals.

GREENE: OK, so I guess that man-eating plant from "Little Shop Of Horrors," Audrey II, remains just fictional - at least as far as we know.


LEVI STUBBS: (As Audrey II) (Singing) Feed me, Seymour. Feed me all night long. (Laughter) That's right, boy. You can do it. Feed me, Seymour. Feed me all night long (laughter). 'Cause if you feed me, Seymour, I can grow up... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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