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figs & wasps
rev up Posted at 2009/04/23 2:43pm reply to

rev up
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This came up in the park yesterday evening.  Interesting stuff.

http://www.figweb.org/
Diana Posted at 2009/04/23 3:20pm reply to

Diana
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The link you sent us says this about consuming wasps with figs
"A common concern among humans is whether we eat fig wasps when we consume figs. The short answer is yes for dried figs and usually no for fresh figs."

This article gives a straighforward answer to that question
http://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/fig-wasp.htm/printable

"Is there a female fig wasp stuck in my teeth?
Most commercially grown figs are pollinated by wasps. And yes, edible figs wind up with at least one dead female wasp inside. But it's still not quite the childhood myth of fruits squirming with insect meat. It's all part of the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between fig wasp and fig plant."

and one interesting aspect of wasp content in figs

"When a female wasp dies inside an edible fig, an enzyme in the fig called ficin breaks down her carcass into protein. The fig basically digests the dead insect, making it a part of the resulting ripened fruit. The crunchy bits in figs are seeds, not anatomical parts of a wasp."

That's ficin cool!
rev up Posted at 2009/04/23 4:00pm reply to

rev up
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I find the relationship, the mutualism, fascinating - enthralling, actually, spent about an hour on that site & plan to revisit it.  Prior to it being mentioned I was entirely ignorant the dynamic.  Thanx
chris Posted at 2009/04/23 4:11pm reply to

chris
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i guess i'd talked about this at a vra meetup a long time ago and jeff never forgets it when discussing the grotesque.
i only read a little about it on that website just now, but i originally learned of it through an hour-long documentary about the relationship that not only talked about several different symbiotic species of figs and wasps, but also about other invertebrates that trick the figs or wasps and co-opt this relationship for their own nutrition or reproduction.  there's a clip of attenborough (he's the best) on youtube talking about fig wasps, but i don't think that was the doc i saw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNbMyavunbQ
chris Posted at 2009/04/23 8:37pm reply to

chris
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p.s.
the best nature documentary of all time is Attenborough's "Life in the Undergrowth" which is full of fascinating relationships.  if you find this fig stuff interesting, you'll love that 5-part series.
Diana Posted at 2009/04/23 11:01pm reply to

Diana
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cool! Have you seen microcosmos? It's one of my very favorite films and this is my favorite sex scene  awesome


chris Posted at 2009/04/24 12:08am reply to

chris
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Microcosmos is beautiful.  they make it slick and romantic with the arty lighting and mood music, but i prefer more of the hardcore gonzo style employed by Attenborough in Life in the Undergrowth.  plus he's right there watching these leopard slugs so it makes it even kinkier:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs7HG_oibAw
you have to watch that clip to believe it, and the entire series is full of similarly unbelievable wonders of nature.
Diana Posted at 2009/04/24 12:23am reply to

Diana
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woah, that's awesome! Yeah, Microcosmos doesn't explain anything so I've often found myself burning with curiosity while watching it, even the time I saw it with an entomologist.
chris Posted at 2009/08/26 11:12pm reply to

chris
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For my fellow science nerds:
The documentary I was talking about is finally playing again on PBS this Sunday at 7pm on Nature.  It's called "Queen of Trees" and is all about the fig tree and fig wasps.  I remember being completely fascinated when I watched it a couple years ago.
christinablue Posted at 2009/08/27 2:38am reply to

christinablue
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That's some crazy interesting shit. Nature rocks hard. <3
rev up Posted at 2009/08/27 6:31pm reply to

rev up
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Hey Chris, thanx for the tip! I'll have to check it out.
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