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Published on Feb 9, 2011
Aquatic carnivorous bladderworts (Utricularia species) catch prey animals with suction traps. High speed video recordings show that the plant "swallows" its prey in less than a millisecond!
The trapdoor morphology is optimized for a fast opening and closure, which we confirm by numerical simulations. It is an elastic valve that buckles inside (entailing opening) and then unbuckles (entailing closure). These precise and reproducible motions are coupled with a strong suction swirl causing accelerations of up to 600g, and leaving little escape chances for prey animals.