This scientist fed his own flesh to a Venus Flytrap

Barry Rice is an astronomy professor at Sierra Collage in Rocklin, California. He's also a passionate botanist with a penchant for carnivorous plants and maintains a fascinating FAQ on the topic. Along with dozens of questions about the lifecycles of carnivorous plants, their digestive processes, and where to acquire them, Rice poses one particularly provocative question: "Can Venus flytraps digest human flesh?"

Being a scientist, Rice conducted an experiment to find out. At the time, he was suffering from athlete's foot that resulted in chunks of his skin peeling off. Guess what happened next.


I thought about my Venus flytraps. (You can start squirming now.) Could they digest diseased human flesh? If so, this would mean that if a person were trapped by an adequately large (giant, special-effects-monster-movie size) Venus flytrap, he or she could be digested. I figured this would be unlikely because surely the skin would be able to resist the puny enzymes from the plant. But here was a chance to prove it.

Of course, what is the point of doing an experiment without documenting it? So I carefully selected four sizable chunks of skin (heh heh heh!) and scanned them on my flat-bed scanner (more squirming). Then, I fed them to four different Venus flytraps (#1: typical plant; #2: 'Justina Davis'; #3: 'Dentate Traps'; #4: 'Red Piranha'). Just in case the plants would not like the skin or would not go through the normal digestion process, I included small earwigs with the skin-chunk sacrifices for plants #2 and #3[…]

After a week, the traps opened. I had predicted the skin chunks would be relatively inert and unaffected. After all, these were hard, crusty chunks of skin from the sole of my diseased feet. Surely the Venus flytraps would have no effect upon them.

Was I ever wrong! The skin chunks were almost completely digested. Worse, what was left no longer had much cohesion, but was gooey and slimy, like little boogers. Uck! Uck! Uck! And what is with the weird hue shift to bacon color?? Uck! Uck! Uck! Iä! Iä!