Plant lures bats with echoing leaf form
Flowers use bright colours and striking patterns to attract pollinators that are guided by sight, such as bees and hummingbirds. So it makes sense that plant species pollinated by bats, which are guided by sound, should entice them in a similar way. Now scientists from the UK and Germany have proved the point for the first time. They have discovered a Cuban rainforest vine – Marcgravia evenia – that grows a dish-shaped leaf just above each flower, to send back conspicuous echoes to nectar-feeding bats. As a result, the bats find its flowers twice as fast by echolocation as they would otherwise.