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 Scattershots: Hammer Orchid
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2009 :  06:27:52  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Orchids are renown for their delicate, often haunting, and sometimes bizarre beauty. Historically, they have been widely used as medicines, seasonings and aphrodisiacs nearly all over the world. They have been cultivated and hybridized extensively and arguably, are the most popular flower on earth, even exceeding the Opium Poppy in their desirability.





But not all are like that; some of them appearing downright scruffy. My favorite is the Hammer Orchid, a plant that rather looks like it has managed to survive passage through the digestive system of a goat and then dried out in a malfunctioning autoclave. The above are not Hammer Orchids.


This is a Hammer Orchid.

The name Orchid comes from the Greek Orkhis, which translates into 'testicle' and neatly explains the sexual connotations assigned to them over the many centuries. It also might give a hint as to why they are so often kept as house plants and greenhouse collections. To even a casual flower lover such as myself, an Orchid in bloom ranks with a pole dance at the boobie bar, and lasts a lot longer.

Some Orchids are known to produce seeds asexually, but most rely upon animal pollination. Both male and female parts are housed in the same location, the column. This is a very handy arrangement, as the insect that visits the flower fertilizes it and receives more pollen from it to pass on, all in a single visit. Which brings us to the Hammer Orchid, a violent, sexual predator.

Look again at the Hammer Orchid above. There is a desperate-looking, little Wasp clinging tightly to it. This is a male Thynnid Wasp and is the Orchid's sole pollinator; and Evolution once again shows that it sometimes has a really cruel & twisted sense of humor.

The way it works, and the sick joke on the Wasp, is this:

The female Thynnid Wasp is flightless. When it's time for her to breed, she climbs to the top of a stalk and begins to produce pheromones that reduce the male Thynnids to whimpering bits of unrequited, flying lust. And off they go, following their noses up the scent stream as fast as they can boogie along. But unbeknownst to them, the Hammer Orchids also produce very similar pheromones and are waiting for them like waterfront hookers wait for the fleet to make port.

Look again at our Hammer Orchid. The Wasp is clinging tightly to a small blob known as an inscetival labellum, that to his eye, looks quite like a shapely & nubile, female abdomen. This is where the delicious, female aroma is produced, and it is on a short, hinged stem. This hinge will only bend one way; directly into the column that contains the pollina and the stigma.

Under ordinary circumstances, the male Wasp would pounce upon his amour and fly her off to a less public, aerial love-nest, fornicating madly as he goes, which makes perfect, evolutionary sense as it helps ensure the extension of the species' range. But when the Wasp attempts to buzz off with the Orchid's labellum the force of his effort causes the hinge to treacherously flip him into the flower's reproductive column, where he receives a healthy thwack loaded with pollen on his thorax. This might happen several times before the frustrated Wasp flies off in disgust quite possibly, even probably, straight into the rapine embrace of yet another Hammer Orchid. Which also makes perfect, evolutionary sense, as the Orchid has it's propagation ensured.

But it is conceivable that, in a locale with a goodly Hammer Orchid population, this might happen so many times that when the Wasp, sticky with flower residue and reeking of Orchid love, finally finds a real mate, the little smegger will be too punch-drunk to enjoy the association.










"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2009 :  08:28:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Excellent work, Filthy!

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2009 :  12:58:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wonderful! I even was able to accept the edumacationable parts, in order to absorb the humor. As another old sailor, I think I understood the rudiments of this part:
But unbeknownst to them, the Hammer Orchids also produce very similar pheromones and are waiting for them like waterfront hookers wait for the fleet to make port.



Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2009 :  14:08:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the kind remarks!

What it is, I miss doing profiles of scoundrels leavened with the occsional saint in my signaturs, and after no consideraion nor contemplation at all, I decided to do something called; Scattershots. These will be sporadic and unlike my signaturs, cover most any topic, person, or situation. For the most part, they will be mercifully brief; less than article length. Mostly -- who knows what a Scattershot might be? Certainly not I; haven't a clue.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2009 :  16:01:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Anyone else think that the inscetival labellum resembles a scorpion's stinger?



As always, filthy, your post is interesting and educational. Thanks!


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 02/24/2009 16:02:47
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2009 :  16:30:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Anyone else think that the inscetival labellum resembles a scorpion's stinger?



As always, filthy, your post is interesting and educational. Thanks!



Thanks!

Y'know, Scorps just might make a good Scattershot, sometime down the road. I have a bit of experience with them and a couple of first hand stories.



A noble beast, the Emperor Scorpion







"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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River Otter
Skeptic Friend

USA
67 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  06:51:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send River Otter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Excellent post Filthy. Thank you for the educational read.

Wikipedia:
Drakaea is an endangered genus of orchid that is native to Australia.


I wonder if the Hammer Orchid will meet it's demise, using just one type of insect for reproduction. This might explain why it is endangered. Evolution help it if anything happens to the Thynnid Wasp.

Has this effected the population of the Thynnid Wasp? If this wasp continually fraternises with flowers there must be a lot of lonely ladies out there. I tried to find this wasp on Wikipedia only to read that the article doesn't exist.

I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know. -Cicero

Brother, You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book. -Sagoyewatha,(Red Jacket) - Chief and great orator of the six nations.
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  07:31:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I love me some evolutionary mimicry, I guess thats why I love the Mimic octopus.
Evolution help it if anything happens to the Thynnid Wasp.

On a side note Otter, what is your answer to "the Great Question"

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  08:14:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by River Otter

Excellent post Filthy. Thank you for the educational read.

Wikipedia:
Drakaea is an endangered genus of orchid that is native to Australia.


I wonder if the Hammer Orchid will meet it's demise, using just one type of insect for reproduction. This might explain why it is endangered. Evolution help it if anything happens to the Thynnid Wasp.

Has this effected the population of the Thynnid Wasp? If this wasp continually fraternises with flowers there must be a lot of lonely ladies out there. I tried to find this wasp on Wikipedia only to read that the article doesn't exist.
As the Orchid/Wasp relationship is strictly one-way -- the Wasp gets nothing from the Orchid beyond aggravation -- the demise of the Orchid would would not affect it. Indeed, it might afford them more breeding opportunities.

But who knows what Evolution might do? It is certainly possible that the Orchid, if pressed, could adapt to another, similar pollenator.

Heh, the Theory of Evolution makes many predictions; I am smart enough not to.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  08:15:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
True, this orchid is so highly specialized that it must be in a fairly precarious situation, evolutionary speaking.

In this particular case, I could easily imagine it disappearing from the wild and only existing through man-conducted pollination...

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  08:31:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I guess it all depends on if the Bufos like these wasps for dinner...

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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River Otter
Skeptic Friend

USA
67 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  10:54:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send River Otter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On a side note Otter, what is your answer to "the Great Question"


Well...I don't have an answer, but have a guess.

The Hammer Orchid would more then likely become extinct from the wild if anything happened to the Thynnid Wasp unless it makes some drastic evolutionary changes. Which, from what I understand, doesn't happen overnight.

I also suspect(and could be completely wrong)that the wasps population is somewhat controlled by the flower. Just a guess.

I am going to try and find some information on this wasp. I am curious.

I love me some evolutionary mimicry, I guess thats why I love the Mimic octopus.

The Mimic octopus is my favorite cephalopod. It is a magnificent creature.




I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know. -Cicero

Brother, You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book. -Sagoyewatha,(Red Jacket) - Chief and great orator of the six nations.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  12:39:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My guess is that the relationship between the Hammer Orchid and the Thynnid Wasp has some self-regulating feedback in it. That is: Hammer Orchids would quickly decrease in numbers if there were fewer Thynnid Wasps, thus allowing the remaining Thynnid Wasps to reproduce much more efficiently. In turn, the rising population of Thynnid Wasps would help the Hammer Orchids to rebound. A feedback mechanism.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  13:08:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I wonder if the orchid has such an impact on the wasp's population.

The other way around, certainly but what do the wasp loose in being tricked? A bit of time and energy... Not that big a deal, I'd think...

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  14:27:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If it is flightless wasps you must have, you could well find one or more right in your back yard.



This striking lady is a Velvet Ant, and don't mess with her!. By far the worst individual wasp stings I've ever received were from Velvet Ants. You note the plural -- sometimes I ain't too smart.

These wasps are quite common world-wide and it is within the realms of speculation that, over a little time, the Hammer Orchid could adapt it's pheromones to another species.

But I fear the odd, little Hammer Orchid will become extinct long before it's pollinator. A pity.





"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2009 :  06:15:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by River Otter

On a side note Otter, what is your answer to "the Great Question"


Well...I don't have an answer, but have a guess.

The Hammer Orchid would more then likely become extinct from the wild if anything happened to the Thynnid Wasp unless it makes some drastic evolutionary changes. Which, from what I understand, doesn't happen overnight.

I also suspect(and could be completely wrong)that the wasps population is somewhat controlled by the flower. Just a guess.

I am going to try and find some information on this wasp. I am curious.

I love me some evolutionary mimicry, I guess thats why I love the Mimic octopus.

The Mimic octopus is my favorite cephalopod. It is a magnificent creature.






Sorry I thought your "Evolution Help..." statement was a South Park inside joke.

For an Otter the correct answer to the Great Question is: Allied Athiest Alliance

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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