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Strange New Carnivorous Plant Species Discovered With Help From Facebook

(CBS SF) -- Facebook is a great tool for sharing baby photos, making birthday party plans and stalking high school friends, but an amateur botanist demonstrated how the social network has gone a step further in the name of science.

Reginaldo Vasconcelos posted a Facebook photo of a strange-looking plant he found on a mountain top in eastern Minas Gerais, Brazil.

One year later, plant expert Paulo Gonello came across the unusual photo and reached out to Vasconcelos. They returned to the mountain together to further investigate. With some additional help, the duo was able to confirm the plant was a new sundew species, one of the largest carnivorous plants with over 190 species.

Named Drosera magnifica, or "magnificent sundew," it's now the second largest carnivorous plant in the Americas. It uses its sticky leaves covered with carnivorous glands that secret enzymes to eat small insects.

"I was really surprised when I first saw the picture posted on Facebook by Reginaldo Vasconcelos featuring this amazing new species. I was especially surprised, not only because it seemed to be a completely new species, but it was a gigantic plant," Gonella tells IFLScience.

Researchers says this discovery, which is already categorized as critically endangered, shows the breadth of biodiversity in Brazil.

"It makes you think: what is still out there, expecting to be discovered?" Gonella said.

Nicole Jones is a digital producer for CBS San Francisco. Follow her musings @nicjonestweets

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