Life as We Know It
Octopuses, Dinosaurs, Pandas and More...
- By Abby Callard, T.A. Frail, Megain Gambino, Abigail Tucker, Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, February 2010
(Bill Beatty / Animals Animals - Earth Scenes)
Name: Impatiens pallida, a forest plant found in eastern North America.
In The Dark: Like some other plants, I. pallida can tell with its roots whether a neighboring plant is its sibling.
In The Light: With unrelated neighbors, I. pallida grows short, leafy stalks. With sibling neighbors, it grows taller stalks with fewer leaves, thus sharing the sunlight, says a study from McMaster University in Ontario.
Under Scrutiny: Other plant species have been shown to take up fewer nutrients through their roots when siblings are growing nearby, but this is the first time a plant has been shown to conspire with kin above ground.
Learn more about Impatiens pallida at the Encyclopedia of Life.
“Female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) chirps advertise the caller’s fertile phase,” Benjamin D. Charlton et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B, December 2, 2009.
“Kin recognition: Competition and cooperation in Impatiens (Balsaminaceae), Guillermo P. Murphy and Susan A. Dudley, American Journal of Botany, October 23, 2009.
“A Complete Skeleton of a Late Triassic Saurischian and the Early Evolution of Dinosaurs,” Sterling J. Nesbitt et al., Science, December 11, 2009.
“Contemporary Evolution of Reproductive Isolation and Phenotypic Divergence in Sympatry along a Migratory Divide,” Gregor Rolshausen et al., Current Biology, December 29, 2009.
“Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus,” Julian K. Finn et al., Current Biology, December 15, 2009.
Giant pandas photo gallery at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park Web site.