Record of the smallest animal scattering broken plant seeds

About the episode

Many plant species depend on animals for their survival. This applies to pollinators, but also to animals that eat seeds. This ensures that the seeds, when digested and excreted again, end up in new places.

There is now an animal for every seed size. For example, some large trees depend entirely on elephants, because they are the only ones that can swallow their huge seeds.

Birds and others eat the very small seeds, but scientists have now discovered that even an animal as small as a woodlice can do so.

Some plant seeds are simply no bigger than a speck of dust, so yes, they don’t need a huge animal to eat, process and transport them.

They discovered this special role for woodlice when they studied a particular plant, the woodlice plant Alocasia silver dragon, Lesson. It is not yet known how the plant spreads.

They saw how various insect species, including earwigs, eat the seeds of this plant and secrete them into a state from which a new plant can grow. The smallest animal they saw doing this was a woodlice. This breaks a record. This has never been seen in such a small animal.

Read more about the research here: New record holder for smallest ingested seed disperser: Woodlice

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Megan Vasquez

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