Life as We Know It
Toucans, Orchids, Monkeys and more
- By Amanda Bensen, Abby Callard, T.A. Frail, Ashley Luthern and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, October 2009
Why would hornets pounce on an orchid that has no nectar? By mistake, say researchers working on China's Hainan Island. They found that Dendrobium sinense flowers produce a chemical that mimics alarm pheromones emitted by honeybees. Hornets, which prey on honeybees, smell the fragrance, attach the orchids—and inadvertently pollinate them.
Learn more about the Dendrobium sinense orchid at the Encyclopedia of Life.
Read more about orchids at our Surprising Science blog.
"Fire as an Engineering Tool of Early Modern Humans," Kyle S. Brown et al., Science, August 14, 2009
"Fire and Stone," John Webb and Marian Domanski, Science, August 14, 2009
"Heat Exchange from the Toucan Bill Reveals a Controllable Vascular Thermal Radiator," Glenn J. Tattersall et al., Science, July 24, 2009
"Orchid Mimics Honey Bee Alarm Pheromone in Order to Attract Hornets for Pollination," Jennifer Brodmann et al., Current Biology, August 25, 2009
"A viscosity-enhanced mechanism for biogenic ocean mixing," Kakani Katija and John O. Dabiri, Nature, July 30, 2009
"Monkeys crying wolf? Tufted capuchin monkeys use anti-predator calls to usurp resources from conspecifics," Brandon C. Wheeler, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, June 3, 2009