It’s the summer of 2017, and a bunch of undergrads are visiting a Canadian park. Something catches one of the students’ eye when he looks into one of the pitcher plants that are common there. He has stumbled on a new discovery which will capture the imagination of scientists and public alike.
That student, Teskey Baldwin, then shares what he has seen with his University of Guelph biology professor, M. Alex Smith. At which point, Smith’s excitement is palpable. Indeed, he has what he will describe in 2019 as a “WTF moment” to U.K. newspaper The Guardian.” And that’s because he’s witnessing something that many did not believe possible.
Indeed, Baldwin found something inside the plant that no one anticipated. The vegetation is a species known commonly as “turtle socks” because of its looks. More usually, it goes by “purple pitcher plant,” because of the bell-shaped receptacle that it catches insects and other small invertebrates in. It also, however, carries the more imposing Latin name of Sarracenia purpurea purpurea.