Scaled image DSCN0672_3.jpg

carpenter bee in Galapagos opuntia
There apparently is some argument whether birds or bees or bats pollinate these tree-sized (yes - 30 feet or more, straight trunked) opuntias. I vote for the bees. I actually wonder if the plants are truly opuntias. I tried sticking myself with the long spines because it seemed like they were not barbed, as all opuntia spines are. The spines came out of my skin smoothly, without a tug. No barbs, I conclude. Later, under 100-fold magnification, I saw a pattern at the tip that may be vestigial barbs, but definitely no barbs. Somebody has to study the Galapagos opuntias. I think it may be necessary to erect a new genus for them. Everything else in the islands has evolved away from its origins, why not the opuntias?   (17/17)   

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