Researchers are a bit baffled by a vine that acts more like a chameleon than a plant. The Boquila trifoliolata vine, which is found in the rainforests of Chile and Argentina, has the remarkable ability to disguise itself by shapeshifting to mimic its surroundings. As it climbs, it morphs itself into an uncanny imitation of its host plant. It can change its size, shape, color, and even vein pattern to fit in. And “if a single Boquila vine extends across two trees, it can mimic both at the same time,” Ernesto Gianoli, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of La Serena in Chile, told Mental_Floss.
Gianoli and his associate, Fernando Carrasco-Urra from the University of Concepción, discovered the plant’s mimicking abilities. Their findings are detailed in the journal Current Biology. “Perhaps the most amazing evidence was that the study species (Boquila) shows a spiny tip when climbing onto a shrub whose leaves show spiny tips (and only in this case, otherwise Boquila has no spines).” How the vine identifies its host isn’t entirely clear, but researchers say it could be sensing airborne chemicals or even “borrowing and using genes” from hosts. It’s all in the name of staying safe from plant-eating herbivores, they think.
2. Drosera Plants
Drosera plants, more commonly called Sundews, often grow in soil that lacks nitrogen. But that's not a problem for these carnivorous plants, which get the nutrients they need from bugs lured in by the succulent droplets hanging from the plant’s arms. They’re irresistible for thirsty bugs looking for sweet nectar, but their thirst is their downfall: The dew is in fact a very sticky substance that traps the insect upon contact. The more the bug struggles, the more the plant closes in around it, slowly suffocating it, then devouring it over days.
We've all faked being sick to avoid a day of school, but for one plant, pretending to be under the weather is a survival tactic. Caladium steudneriifolium, found in a rainforest of Ecuador, is a tasty meal for mining moth caterpillars. These moths lay larvae in the leaves, and when they hatch, the caterpillars eat through the plant, leaving behind white, winding trails known as variegation. Researchers discovered that the plant has learned to deter the moths by purposefully pretending it has already been eaten, and it works. The plants that put on the disguise were far less likely to become a meal.
Flowers depend on bees to help spread their pollen. Instead of waiting around hoping a bee will drop by, the aptly named “bee orchid” takes things into its own petals. To lure in male bees, this flower looks (and smell) remarkably like a female bee. The males drop in to say hello, are covered in a layer of pollen, and then buzz off to pollinate the next orchid.
Lithops, commonly known as “living stones,” are native to the dry climates of southern Africa. To prevent themselves from becoming a meal for thirsty passersby, the plant has evolved to disguise itself by resembling the stones of its surroundings. Its leaves are not green, but grey or brown and covered in odd stone-like patterns. But there’s no hiding these plants once they bloom—their flowers are bright and beautiful.
If you’ve ever encountered stinging nettle, you know it’s an unpleasant, painful experience. Its leaves are covered in sharp needle-like hairs that irritate the skin. It seems the Lamium album plant, which goes by the name of white dead-nettle, also knows this, and has learned to mimic stinging nettle to ward off would-be predators. It doesn’t pack the same painful punch as its look-alike, but it benefits from appearing as such.
The use of the hashtag as a Twitter tool to denote a specific topic in order for the masses to follow along turns 10 years old today, having first been suggested (in a Tweet, naturally) by Silicon Valley regular and early adopter Chris Messina back in 2007. Here’s a little history on its evolution from the humble numerical sign to the social media giant it is today.
1. IT COMES FROM THE LATIN TERM FOR “POUND WEIGHT.”
There’s no definitive origin story for the hash (or pound) symbol, but one belief is that when 14th-century Latin began to abbreviate the term for pound weight—libra pondo—to “lb,” a horizontal slash was added to denote the letters were connected. (The bar was called a tittle.) As people began to write more quickly, the letters and the tittle became amalgamated, eventually morphing into the symbol we see today.
2. IT SHOULD ACTUALLY BE CALLED AN OCTOTHORPETAG.
The symbol portion of the hashtag eventually made its way to dial-button telephones, the result of AT&T looking forward to phones interacting with computers. In order to complete a square keypad with 10 digits (including 0), they added the numerical sign and an asterisk. AT&T employee Don MacPherson thought they sign needed a more official name, so he chose Octothorpe—“octo” because it has eight points, and “thorpe” because he was a fan of football hero Jim Thorpe.
3. TWITTER WASN’T BIG ON THE IDEA AT FIRST.
When web marketer Messina had the notion to add hashtags to keep track of conversations, he stopped by Twitter’s offices to make an informal pitch. He came at a bad time: co-founder Biz Stone was trying to get the software back online after a crash and dismissed the idea with a “Sure, we’ll get right on that” burn. Undeterred, Messina started using them and the habit caught on.
4. IT’S IN THE OXFORD DICTIONARY.
By 2014, respect for the hashtag had grown to the point where the venerable Oxford English Dictionary gave the word its stamp of approval. Their entry: "hashtag n. (on social media web sites and applications) a word or phrase preceded by a hash and used to identify messages relating to a specific topic; (also) the hash symbol itself, when used in this way."
5. THERE ARE SOME HASHTAG ALL-TIMERS.
Hashtags can highlight interest in everything from political movements to breaking news stories, but the frequency of their use is often tied into popular culture. The most popular TV-related tag has been #TheWalkingDead; #StarWars sees a lot of action; and #NFL dominates sports-related Tweets.
In 1987, the New World Pictures released Hellraiser, a horror film about a family who opens a puzzle box and invites hell in their lives in the form of pleasure-pain creatures known as Cenobites, who are lead by Pinhead (played by Doug Bradley). Unlike many other horror films at the time, Hellraiser wasn’t a slasher film, and Pinhead wasn’t a boogeyman.
British novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Clive Barker wanted to direct a feature film, so he adapted his 1986 horror novella, The Hellbound Heart, into Hellraiser. Despite the graphic nature of the film, it’s really a love story between Julia Cotton and her demented—and skinless—lover Frank ... whose relationship just so happens to revolve around sadistic torture.
Hellraiser was produced for around a $1 million and grossed $14 million, making it lucrative enough to spawn nine sequels, including this year’s Hellraiser: Judgment. (Bradley hasn’t starred in a Hellraiser film since 2011’s Hellraiser: Revelations, and Barker didn’t direct or write any of the sequels, most of which were direct-to-DVD releases.) As we near the 30th anniversary of its release, let's take a look back at this horror classic.
1. THE ORIGINS OF PINHEAD CAME FROM A 1973 PLAY.
Before Doug Bradley uttered the catchphrase “We’ll tear your soul apart,” Clive Barker directed him in a 1973 play called Hunters in the Snow,in whichBradley played the Dutchman, a torturer who would become the basis for Pinhead.
“The character I played in Hunters, the Dutchman, I can see echoes of later... Pinhead in Hellraiser," Bradley said. "This strange, strange character whose head was kind of empty but who conveyed all kinds of things.”
Barker’s mid-1980s short story “The Forbidden”—which was adapted into Candyman—from his "Books of Blood" series, featured the first incarnation of Pinhead’s nails. “One image I remember very strongly from 'The Forbidden' was that Clive had built what he called his nail-board, which was basically a block of wood which he’d squared off and then he’d banged six-inch nails in at the intersections of the squares,” Bradley said. “Of course, when I saw the first illustrations for [Pinhead], it rang a bell with me that here was Clive putting the ideas that he’d been playing around with the nail-board in 'The Forbidden,' now 10, 15 years later. He’d now put the image all over a human being’s face.”
2. CLIVE BARKER CAST “REAL ACTORS.”
Unlike many other horror movies of the time, which were more concerned with gore than great acting, Barker insisted that they look for real talent in the casting. “I’m not just taking the 12 most beautiful youths in California and murdering them,” Barker told The Washington Post in 1987. “I’ve got real actors, real performers—and then I’m murdering them.” The “real” refers to British theater actors like Bradley, Clare Higgins, and Andrew Robinson.
3. PINHEAD WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE POSTER.
New World Pictures
Bradley said the filmmakers wanted skinned Frank to be on the poster, but the studio said no to the grotesque imagery, so Pinhead was used on the poster instead. “Maybe that came from Clive, because what we get in that image of Pinhead with the box is the heart of the Hellraiser mythology,” Bradley said. “If you put The Engineer or the skinned man on the poster, it’s an amazing image but it’s just an image, and it could come from any movie.” Bradley thought using Pinhead’s face made more sense. “The big success of Pinhead is because the image is so original, so startling. It is just an incredible image to look at, and that made a big difference in terms of the public's perception of the movie.”
4. NO ONE KNEW THAT DOUG BRADLEY WAS PINHEAD.
Bradley’s Pinhead mug was everywhere—on the cover of magazines and on the movie’s poster—but no one mentioned his name. “It was great to be so heavily featured, but there was no way to prove to anyone that it was actually me,” Bradley said. “Those who were following Hellraiser at the time were wondering where the guy with the pins was! Well I can tell you where I was—I was sitting at home in England, watching it all happen from the sidelines.”
5. THE CENOBITES' DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY S&M CLUBS.
In the box set’s liner notes, Barker wrote that the Cenobites's “design was influenced amongst other things by punk, by Catholicism, and by the visits I would take to S&M clubs in New York and Amsterdam.” Costume designer Jane Wildgoose created the costumes, based on Barker’s instruction of “repulsive glamour.”
“The other notes that I made about what he wanted was that they should be ‘magnificent super-butchers,’” Wildgoose said.
As for Pinhead, Barker said he “had seen a book containing photographs of African fetishes: sculptures of human heads crudely carved from wood and then pierced with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of nails and spikes. They were images of rage, the text instructed.”
6. IT'S REALLY A LOVE STORY.
Julia is forced to bring men back to her house and murder them for Frank so that he can replenish his flesh. Barker looked at Hellraiser as more of a love story, with Julia committing these heinous acts in the name of love, not just to be brutal for no reason.
“She’s not committing murder in the way that Jason in the Friday the 13th films commits murder—just for the sake of blood-letting —she’s doing it for love,” Barker told Samhain. “So there is a sympathetic quality about her, enhanced hugely in my estimation by the fact that Clare Higgins does it so well.”
7. BARKER’S GRANDFATHER INSPIRED THE PUZZLE BOX.
When a person twists the box, known as the Lament Configuration, it summons the Cenobites from the gates of hell into the individual's world. “I wanted to have access to hell in the book and in the first movie, explored by something rather different than drawing a circle on the floor with magical symbols around it,” Barker told WIRED. “That seemed rather stale and rather old.”
Barker explained his grandfather was a cook on ship and brought back a puzzle box from the Far East. “So when I went back to the problem of how to open the doors of hell, the idea of [using] a puzzle box seemed interesting to me. You know, the image of a cube is everywhere in world culture, whether it’s theRubik’s Cube or the idea of the [Tesseract] in TheAvengers movies. There’s a lot of places where the image of a cube as a thing of power is pertinent. I don’t know why that is, I don’t have any mythic explanation for it, but it seems to work for people.”
8. ROGER EBERT WASN'T A FAN OF THE FILM.
Roger Ebert gave Hellraiser just a half star when he reviewed it in 1987. “Who goes to see movies like this? This is a movie without wit, style, or reason,” he wrote, adding that, “I have seen the future of implausible plotting, and his name is Clive Barker.”
9. SOMEONE HAD THE JOB OF MAGGOT AND COCKROACH WRANGLER.
In England, there was a law in which cockroaches of both sexes weren’t allowed on set, because they could have mated and caused an infestation. So Barker had to hire someone to oversee the situation. “The wrangler, this is the honest truth, had to sex the roaches,” Barker told an audience at a Hellraiser screening. “They were all male. And we had a fridge. They move very fast, so the only way to slow them down was to chill them. We chilled the maggots and the roaches. We'd open it up and it was all reassuring. It was fun.”
10. BARKER PREFERS "HELL PRIEST" TO "PINHEAD."
In The Hellbound Heart, the Cenobite with pins sticking out of his head is called The Hell Priest. One of the special effects guys who worked on the movie gave the character his nickname. “I thought it was a rather undignified thing to call the monster, but once it stuck, it stuck,” Barker told Grantland.
In 2015, Barker published a sequel to The Hellbound Heart, The Scarlet Gospels, which features Pinhead getting annoyed when people call him that—as well as Pinhead’s demise. “He will not be coming back, by the way," Barker said. "That I promise you."
11. A HELLRAISER VS. HALLOWEEN MOVIE ALMOST HAPPENED.
In an interview with Game Radar, Bradley said the success of Freddy vs. Jason led Hellraiser distributor Dimension Films to flirt with a Hellraiser vs. Halloween film. “I was actually getting excited by the prospect of this because Clive said he would write it and John Carpenter said he would direct it,” Bradley said. “I actually spoke to Clive about it a couple of times and he was interested in finding the places where the Halloween and Hellraiser worlds intermeshed.” But Moustapha Akkad, who owned the rights to Halloween, extinguished the idea.
12. THE BRITISH BOARD OF FILM CLASSIFICATION HAD TO CHECK THAT NO RATS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE.
While the MPAA requested that a spanking scene be cut for its American release, England's BBFC agreed to release the movie as it was, if they were assured that the rats used in the film weren’t hurt. “I had to bring three remote-control rats into the censor’s office and make them wriggle about on the floor,” producer Christopher Figg told The Telegraph. “They wanted to be sure we hadn’t been cruel to them.”