Welcome to Fast Facts with Reasons for Hope! I’m Carl Kerby and, today, we’re going to talk about the aardvark.
While they primarily eat ants and termites, there’s one more thing they really like to eat. It’s a… cucumber!
Now, it’s not the kind of cucumber that you and I eat in our salads or as pickles. This is a VERY unique cucumber. It’s called the “aardvark cucumber” and that’s because, without the aardvark, the cucumber wouldn’t exist.
When this cucumber was first discovered in 1923, the authorities didn’t believe that it was real. This is because, of the approximately 735 species in the cucumber family, this is the only one that grows its fruit underground!
That’s right! This is a process called “geocarpy” and it’s a very rare reproductive strategy. The best known example of this process would probably be the peanut.
The authorities actually wrote that it “had been buried by natives for the purpose of preserving it for future use” and that it “had not developed underground.” Sorry! That was wrong.
So, why wouldn’t the cucumber be here without the aardvark? Well, that’s a great question, but our time is up. We’ll have to talk about that in the next Fast Facts with Reasons for Hope. Until then… stay bold!