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Biologists Discover New Species of Giant Carnivorous Plant

07/30/2015 - 10h54

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CLÁUDIA COLLUCCI
FROM SÃO PAULO

A new species of giant carnivorous plant has been discovered in eastern Minas Gerais. It is the largest of its kind ever discovered in the Americas.

The novelty also applies to the way it has been found: by means of a photo published on Facebook.

Reginaldo Vasconcelos, an orchid grower and enthusiast of native flora, took a photo of the plant during his wanderings in the mountains near his hometown of Governador Valadares (MG).

Specialists in carnivorous plants, Paulo Gonella and Fernando Rivadavia saw the publication on Facebook, identified it as a new species and made an expedition to study it.

The article that reported the discovery was published in the renowned scientific journal "Phytotaxa" by a group of botanists from Brazil, United States and Germany.

"It is the first plant to be discovered on Facebook," says Andreas Fleischmann, of the Botanical Garden of Munich (Germany), one of the authors.

Known as "sundew" (sundew genus, droseraceae family), the now named Drosera magnifica is almost one five feet long.

It produces long, slender leaves, covered with glands or "tentacles", which secrete droplets of a viscous and sticky mucilage.

These red and glittering tentacles are visually attractive, and represent a death trap especially for small flying insects.

The sundew genus is the largest group of carnivorous plants, with about 250 species distributed throughout the world, mainly in tropical areas of Australia, South Africa and Brazil.

Facebook has become one of the most important tools for the discovery of new species, according to the authors of the article. One group, DetWeb, brings together over 5,000 botanists and enthusiasts Brazil.

Translated by CRISTIANE COSTA LIMA

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