Despite being a voracious plant-eater, the desert hopper itself is food for a plant. The death-bottle is a carnivorous plant, relying on animals to provide the nutrients lacking in the desert soil. Part of the plant consists of an underground chamber, covered by a thin membrane. Overground, a spray of stems and leaves photosynthesize sunlight and act as bait for herbivorous desert animals.
When a hungry desert hopper lands on the thin membrane of the death-bottle, hoping to feed on its leaves, the membrane breaks and the snail falls through. Trapped inside the underground chamber, which is about 2 feet (61 centimeters) deep, the desert hopper begins to struggle. As it attempts to escape, poisonous spines drive into the exposed parts of its body, piercing its hard skin. The
poison subdues the hopper and the plant's digestive juices start to break down the animal's tissues. After a few days, the hopper has been fully digested and the membrane has regrown, ready for the next victim.
There is only a sparse population of death-bottles in the Rainshadow Desert so they have had to develop a failsafe strategy for propagation. Most plants reproduce by crosspollination, using the wind or airborne animals to disperse male cells, in the form of pollen, to the female parts of other plants of the same species. The death-bottle cannot afford to take such risks. Its pollen might not reach a female plant, so fertilization and seed production might never occur. It has therefore developed a strategy of self-pollination, whereby pollen is transferred to the female part within the same plant, allowing it to produce seeds. It is to disperse these seeds that the death-bottle calls on the services of the bumblebeetle.
This angiosperm (or flowering plant) has developed a leafy flower with the shape and silvery sheen of a dead ocean flish. Enzymes in the flower can even recreate a convincing odor of rotting flesh. A passing bumblebeetle will land on an ocean flish-like flower to deposit its grimworms but, burrowing into the leafy flower through what looks like a wound, it too finds itself in a trap 2 feet (61 centimeters) deep. Unlike the spiny chamber that other animals like desert hoppers get caught in, however, this chamber is full of sticky seeds, each about 0.125 inch (3.2 millimeters) long.
The bumblebeetle blunders around in the underground seed chamber until, suddenly, a spring mechanism about 32 inches (81 centimeters) long in the chamber catapults it skywards. Seed-coated but safe, it flies away, continuing its quest for a real flish carcass. As it lives out its short life, flying towards a flishwreck or fighting for possession of a dead ocean flish with another of its kind, the heavy seeds fall from the insect. From these seeds, if conditions are right, new death-bottles will grow.
The relationship between the bumblebeetle, the ocean flish and the death-bottle plant is yet another example of how, when faced with an environment as harsh as the Rainshadow Desert, organisms can adapt to make brilliant use of each other.
- The deathbottle is similar to the sarlaac from Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of The Jedi.