Venus Flytrap — Still Baffling After All These Years

Many people are familiar with the carnivorous plant known as the Venus flytrap. Kids like to poke it to watch the "jaws" snap shut, or feed it raw hamburger — both activities are bad for it, however. It's that snapping shut in 1/10th of a second that is the main puzzler.

Venus flytraps, morgueFile / xianstudio
It is not mechanical, so there are no wires, pulleys and things like that. And it is not an animal, so there are no muscles to make it close. Yet, scientists are working on biomimetics because they believe that this plant inspires them to intelligently design imitations of its actions. But they cannot figure out how (or why!) it allegedly evolved.
The Venus flytrap remains one of the most intriguing plants in the world.  What makes it snap shut in a tenth of a second?  Can we imitate its motion without muscles, wires or batteries?
A press release from the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics sets up the questions:
Plants lack muscles, yet in only a tenth of a second, the meat-eating Venus fly trap hydrodynamically snaps its leaves shut to trap an insect meal. This astonishingly rapid display of botanical movement has long fascinated biologists. Commercially, understanding the mechanism of the Venus fly trap’s leaf snapping may one day help improve products such as release-on-command coatings and adhesives, electronic circuits, optical lenses, and drug delivery.
You can read the rest of this short but very interesting article, "Venus Flytrap Still Mystifies, Inspires", here.