Tawtsngal - sky cup
Panopyra aerii or Maraca aerii
30 to 46 centimeters
|Behind the scenes|
The panopyra (Na'vi name: tawtsngal meaning "sky cup") is an unusual life-form that has characteristics reminiscent of a jellyfish. It doesn't resemble any taxonomic plant group found on Earth and appears to represent a new line of evolution toward a primitive nervous system. Sensory tissue and a saprophytic lifestyle, where nutrition is obtained from decayed organic matter and dead organisms, place this species somewhere between plants, animals, and fungi. It is an epiphyte and typically grows attached to other plants, sometimes high in the canopy.
Normal plant gravitropic responses are missing in the panopyra. Instead of growing toward or against gravity, the vinelike stems sense and grow toward prey, which in turn are attracted by slight electric signals emanating from the plant's stems. Once an animal approaches the panopyra it is further lured by the nutrient-rich water trapped in the cuplike plant body. This double attractant system results in abundant food for the panopyra, which has no need to make its own food through photosynthesis. The water is collected from dew and fog, which condenses and runs down into the cup-shaped body.
The Na'vi collect the liquid that catches in the body and use it for a nutritious and healing drink. The flexible stems are used for making nets, traps, and other woven items. The growing tips of the stems with their sensory cells are said to be an attractant and aphrodisiac and often worn by young Na'vi who are looking for a mate.