Monday, January 30, 2006

eurypterid ...

it is considered likely that the first animals on land were eurypterids (largest known arthropods - "jointed feet" and with "external skeletons". over 80% of animal species living today are arthropods). fossil evidence indicates that they emerged from swamps about 440 million years ago, approximately 200 million years before dinosaurs first appeared. some were as large as 2.3 meters (7 feet). plants had only made it to land a short while before, and hadn't evolved much beyond mosses and other simple plants. today's scorpions are direct descendants of the ancient eurypterids, and have a very similar anatomy.
the first person to make a serious attempt to study scorpion was aristotle. geographical distribution shows in many particulars a close and interesting correspondence with that of the mammals, including their entire absence from new zealand.
they are easily distinguished from the insects by the fact that they have eight legs like their cousin, the spiders. all scorpions are predators, in general have three sets of eyes, all possess venom, do glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet light. many can go without food for a long time, up to a year. they can eat a huge amount in one sitting and also have the lowest metabolic rates among "cold blooded" creatures. many can go without water indefinitely.
scorpion mating is a dance, dangerous for both parties. most scorpions are loners because of their cannibalistic tendencies. when two scorpions meet, they usually fight until one is killed and eaten by the winner. after mating, the smaller scorpion is often in danger of being eaten. as females are usually bigger, it is the male which usually gets eaten.
scorpions don't lay eggs. the fertilised eggs develop into embryos in brood chambers within the mother's body. gestation is quite long, it can take several months to more than a year. the mother keeps her babies on her back for about a week. most mothers can recognise their own babies by smell and pick up fallen babies.
scorpions live 3-5 years on average, but some species can live for 10-25 years.
scorpions are threatened by habitat destruction. some have become popular pets and are endangered by over-collection for the pet trade. scorpions are vulnerable because they have the lowest rate of reproduction among arthropods.

Friday, January 27, 2006

dispersal ...

a seed must somehow "arrive" at a location and be there at a time favorable for germination and growth.

biological dispersal refers to those processes by which a species maintains or expands the distribution of a population. dispersal implies movement, movement away from an existing population or away from the parent organisms. in the latter case, dispersal may simply involve replacement of the parent generation by the new generation.

dispersal is a universal biological need, and it is to be expected that most higher plants have solved the problem in one way or another through adaptations involving their fruit or seed. examine the fruit of any species and it is likely, with perhaps a bit more knowledge about the ecosystem, to at least intelligently speculate on what these adptations are in that plant.

the co-evolution of plants and animals is a fascinating story in itself. a very significant aspect of this co-evolution involves plant adaptations that take advantage of animal abilities to locomote. these seeds have a tough protective outer-coating so that while the fruit is digested, the seeds will pass through their host's digestive tract intact, and grow wherever(hopefully) they fall.

such fruit attractive to birds is perhaps the most successful of fruit adaptations related to plant dispersal.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

patterning of the regions ...

an exact match with the environment's colors is less crucial than the patterning of the regions of color themselves. - theory of camouflage.

camouflage is the method which allows an otherwise visible organism or object to remain indiscernible from the surrounding environment. in nature, there is a strong evolutionary pressure for animals to blend into their environment or conceal their shape, for prey animals to avoid predators and for predators to be able to sneak up on prey.
for these strategies to work, the animal must stay in a particular position for hours at a time, like snakes that are active at night and rest by day, sitting motionless on the tree trunks into which they blend.
it appears that the snakes underwent a rapid radiation in their initial burst of evolution, with a number of different lifestyles appearing at once and then developing independently and in parallel afterwards. snakes, like all living things, are the product of the process of evolution, which allows species to change over time in response to environmental factors and colours to produce entirely new species.
malabar pit viper (trimeresurus malabaricus) is a species of snake found only in the western ghats of india and they are found in varied colouration, may be capitalising specfic niche's in the forest. will write more about this species in another post, because i have a better picture for that !

Sunday, January 22, 2006

disco-my-cetes ...

"an important aspect of design is the degree to which the object involves you in its own completion."

fictional chinese-hawaiian detective, charlie chan said, "mind like parachute - only function when open."
as the name suggests, a "cup fungus" forms a fruiting body that is cup or saucer shaped, depending on the depth of the cup. the spores are formed on the inner surface of the cup or saucer. cup fungi vary greatly in size, and many are brightly colored. the cup fungi belong to the subgroup known as the disco-my-cetes.
the cup shape typically serves to focus raindrops into splashing spores out of the cup. additionally, the curvature enables wind currents to blow the spores out in a different manner than in most other fungi, that are not cup shaped !
design is the contrast of the core of limitations, therefore there are no boundaries. it is simply an interpretation of creativity playing with function.

Friday, January 20, 2006

carry on flowers ...

a typical flower may be stereotyped as a colorful, sweet-smelling structure that attracts insects.
a variety of insects find the showy petals and fragrance irresistible, and the reward for their pollination service is a carbohydrate-rich, sugary nectar secretion from the flower. while the above scenario fits the majority of flowering plants, there are many notable exceptions to the typical flower stereotype, some of the most remarkable are known as "carrion flowers", showy blossoms with the stench of rotting flesh.
unlike the fragrant blossoms that attract bees, butterflies and moths, carrion flowers simulate the odor of a rotting carcass and attract a variety of flies and insects. not only do these flowers smell like a dead animal, but their petals are typically flesh-colored. amorphophallus is a member of the aroid family (araceae), the same family as familiar plants such as philodendron.
carrion flowers are masters in the art of deception because they lure these insects into their blossoms. the flowers get pollinated but the fate of the insects is much more dismal, maggots hatching from eggs laid by them will perish from lack of any suitable food.
it is interesting to speculate about how different species of plants/animals perceive odors, adaptability, evolutionary path and why certain putrid odors are repugnant to us but are irresistible to some. whether a particular odor is perceived as "bad" or "good" is in the nose of the beholder !

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

crawling star ...

the universe has been believed to exist in many weird and wonderful forms. one of them was the popular belief in the late nineteenth century, that there was no universe but the earth was a flat disc supported on the back of a giant tortoise. not just one tortoise, but an infinite tower of tortoises, each standing on the back of another.

at this point in time no one really knows how much matter exists in the entire universe nor the exact status of this endangered species, geochelone elegans. also known as a crawling star.
"the indian star tortoise" is a land-dwelling reptile. found in dry areas and scrub forest of india and sri lanka. omnivorous, but inclined to be vegetarian. feeds on succulent, fallen fruits, grass, fungi etc. they are also known to feed on snails, animal and bird excreta.
tortoises generally have a lifespan comparable with that of human beings. it is now considered an endangered species due to over poaching for the pet market.

Monday, January 16, 2006

kollegal ground gecko

there is a sticky point in darwin’s argument, if evolution is indeed guided by natural selection, then two environments that are similar should select for the same sorts of creatures, all else being equal. do two communities of animals living in similar habitats evolve to be the same ? does evolution repeat itself at the community level ?

unlike rats and cockroaches, which are generalists and much the same wherever one find them, lizards are specialists and their evolution unique in the natural world.

lizards are reptiles of the same order, which they share with the snakes. the species range in adult length from a few centimeters (some geckos) to nearly three meters (komodo dragons). geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions. the picture we see is a kollegal ground gecko (geckoella collegalensis) found in the scrub plains of southern peninsular india .

lizards have been on the earth for more than 200 million years, and they make excellent models to study for evolution. during the course of evolution, lizards have undergone limb reduction and loss many times. its easy to think that evolution leads to ever-greater degrees of complexity, but limb reduction shows how animal structure can become less complex even though it becomes more specialised. (-incomplete)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

sloth bear ...

it is a tree in a forest, am saying its a tree for sure because of the claw marks on it. saying its a forest because those claw marks are made by "sloth bears" which live only in the wild. am saying its a "sloth bear" because cats like tigers and leapords use four or five claws to parallel mark, because they are short. sloth bears have large and slightly curved hook-like ivory claws, that enable them to climb trees and dig for termites.
these markings were made while the bear was attempting to climb this tree for fruits, am saying fruits because this tree is either syzygium cumini/syzygium gardneri, no other tree has this smooth ashy well rounded trunk, in this part of the forest. so this is a rain forest !
syzygium is an important element in the rainforest ecosystem, being a food source for many blossom-feeding and fruit-eating animals. the fruit is commonly called as naaval, jamun, black plum, faux pistachier, indian blackberry. has a long tradition in alternative medicine. fruiting season starts after monsoon. presuming, the bear would have climbed sometime during november/december !
those white patches on the trunk are lichens (type-crustose), a symbiotic organisms made up by the association of microscopic green algae or cyanobacteria and filamentous fungi. the indian subcontinent has documented 2,450 species of lichens, out of that 210 are found only in this range of forests. lichens have medicinal value and antibiotic properties.
the whole exercise was purely meant for one reason, importance of awareness through knowledge, and we dont have enough knowledge to justify conservation/stop destruction of our natural resources.
as we are reading this ... hunters are seeking the prized gall bladder of the sloth bear, which is used as medicine in asia and the forests are being encroached.
thanks so much for your wonderfull comments ! will comment on what each one of you saw, tomorrow !

Friday, January 13, 2006

temporary post ...

" what do we know ? " and " how do we know it ? ".

kant approaches the questions by looking at the relationship between knowledge based on reason (what we know purely logically, prior to or independently of experience, or a priori) and knowledge based on experience (what we know based on the input of our senses or a posteriori).

things as they are "in themselves" are unknowable. for something to become an object of knowledge, it must be experienced, and experience is prestructured by the activity of our own minds . we are never passive observers or knowers. in kant's words, "thoughts without content [are] empty, and intuitions without concepts [are] blind".

tomorrow i will finish my earlier post, "what is seeing ?..." by, what i see from that technically poor picture ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

what is seeing ?...

" he thinks he believes only what he see, but he is much better at believing than at seeing " - (on request)

in view of the fact.
in common usage, visual perception.
in astronomy, seeing is a technical term related to the blurring effects of air turbulence in the atmosphere.
in the occult seeing refers to "the sight" or the ability to see auras or to predict the future.
(someone) being in a romantic relationship.
seeing depends on many things.
seeing within changes one's outer vision.
so what is seeing ? what do u see in the above picture ? ... will continue after receiving a few comments ...

Monday, January 09, 2006

mutation ...

"objectivity cannot be equated with mental blankness, but resides in recognizing your preferences and then subjecting them to especially harsh scrutiny, and also in a willingness to revise or abandon your theories when the tests fail (as they usually do)" - doesnt matter

at the molecular level, life’s ability to reproduce begins with the replication of DNA, during which two new spirals are created that are exact replicas of the original molecule. sometimes a change in the sequence is called a "mutation".

mutations can occur randomly, from radiation damage (impact with high energy g-rays or cosmic rays), from exposure to chemical agents called mutagens, viruses or simply by error in the DNA replication process.

mutations are considered the driving force of evolution, where less favorable mutations are removed from the gene pool by natural selection, while more favorable ones tend to accumulate.

"adaptations" according to the surroundings can also be referred to as mutation. overwhelming majority of mutations have no significant effect on evolution.

can't say how or when sexual reproduction came to take a hold in nature, but high mutation rates can, under the right conditions, force an asexual organism like bacteria to become sexual and pass on higher mutation rates.

the rate of progressive evolution (the accumulation of beneficial mutations) is faster in populations that reproduce sexually.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

coevolution ...

anchoring must necessarily occur in any physically embedded system that comprises a symbolic reasoning component.

environments simply are not fixed places that living things must fit into, adapt to, but the busy activity of living things themselves, working out their ways of life together as parts of the live earth. coevolution in eco-systems now seems a matter of creatures changing themselves from the inside, in response to their environment, and prodding changes in other creatures that are part of their environment. a change in one species will thus be reflected by changes in some others. each species is continually incorporating raw materials into its bodies, and being transformed in turn into raw materials for others.
coevolution happens when two or more species reciprocally influence each other's evolution. it is most often invoked to explain coadaptations and dependence between species. parasites and hosts, is an example of antagonistic coevolution, which can lead to evolutionary 'arms races'.
insects and plants influence each other's evolution, by the evolution of insecticides in plants and of detoxification and avoidance mechanisms in insects. evolutionary relations between insects and plants less often take the form of coevolution than of sequential evolution, in which plant evolution influences insect evolution but not vice versa.
the level of virulence of parasites can evolutionarily decrease or increase. two factors that influence it are kin selection and the mode of transmission of the parasite between hosts.
coevolutionary “arms races” between predators and prey may often show an evolutionary pattern called escalation. we must distinguish escalation from evolutionary progress. if evolution is progressive, organisms will become better adapted to their surroundings through evolutionary time, if it is escalatory, the improvement in predatory adaptations may be matched by improvements in prey defences/deteriotion, and neither ends up any better off.
it is indeed in the long-term interest of a parasite species not to destroy the resource it lives off. rates of change, and relative competitive abilities, need not be constant.
the main point is that any old interaction, symbiosis, mutualism, etc. is not synonymous with coevolution.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

web of life ...

the affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree ... as buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation it has been with the great tree of life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications - ( doesnt matter)

the "web of Life" is, of course an ancient idea, which has been used by poets, philosophers, and mystics throughout the ages to convey their sense of the interwovenness and interdependence of all phenomena. the network is a pattern that is common to all life. wherever we see life, we see networks.
an amazing variety of habitats, people, plants and animals, everything from peacock to bananas and bacteria to beer are all interconnected in a fragile web of life and every member is essential for the balance.
at all levels of life, beginning with the simplest cell, mind and matter, process and structure, are inseparably connected. a living organism is more than shape, more than a static configuration of components in a whole. thus the famous phrase, "the whole is more than the sum of its parts."
we have much to learn from this wisdom of nature, and to do so we need to become ecologically literate. we need to understand the basic principles of ecology, the language of nature. the web of Life provides a solid basis for ecological thought and practice. knowledge about species, past environments, and evolutionary relationships is vital to understanding and protecting the web of life.
i can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. i'm frightened of the old ones.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

karum kurangu ...

continued ...
one is the nature of consciousness and of mind. these are biological subjects, and they're phenomena not just limited to human beings, since we can see their early origins in other vertebrates, particularly the other primates.
another principal domain in biology that is still largely unexplored is the assembly and maintenance of ecosystems. how do ecosystems - assemblages of plants and animals - live more or less stably for an indefinite period of time ? how do they come together in the first place ? how are certain species chosen to enter that community ? how do they manage to survive ? and how does the ecosystem fit together in a way that provides stability ?

the two great goals of the 21st century are, first, raising people around the world to a decent standard of living, and second, bringing as much of the rest of life through with us. if we can do this, we will obtain the kind of better world that people everywhere believe should be our major human purpose.
today, we do not know 90 percent of the kinds of organisms that exist on this earth, what would knowing almost all mean for us ? it would mean that for the first time we would know all of the life forms including bacteria around the world. we would understand potential disease organisms, as well as the fundamental bacterial elements of ecosystems, the very primitive but elementary organisms that form a large part of the base of the ecosystem. right now we don't even know what the majority of organisms are doing. cataloguing all of the world's species we would have a huge reservoir of knowledge from which to draw genes for transgenic changing of crops, development of new pharmaceuticals and understand sustenance of life.
first ! ... we need to safeguard what we have ... and it's practicable, it is not at all expensive, conservation international convened economists and biologists two years ago in order to estimate how much it would cost to save the rest of biodiversity. it turns out that in order to save the world's 25 hottest hot spots, those places where you have the greatest endangerment to whole ecosystems with large numbers of species and then add the cost of saving the core wilderness areas of the great tropical forests of the congo, the amazon, and new guinea, it would cost one payment of about $28 billion. that's one tenth of one percent of the annual economic output of the world !
i thank beloved EDWARD O.WILSON for the inspiration.

Monday, January 02, 2006

karu mandhi ...

nilgiri langur ( trachypithecus johnii ) the black leaf monkey (locally - karu mandhi or karum kurangu) is endemic to the fragmented rainforests of the western ghats, south india. it is one of the 18 species of asian leaf monkeys belonging to the family cercopithecidae.
living on the the canopy, in size of a group vary from 5 to 24 individuals with one adult male in each group. 115 plant species were documented as food plants, feeding on leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds etc. minor food items include petioles, bark, pith, insects (mainly termites), soil gum and dead wood.
this species fall under the conservation status of threatened category, due to severe pressure from poaching, because of the belief that certain parts of its body have medicinal value. habitat destruction being the other major contributor. half of the world primates are threatened towards extinction soon.
dear readers, from now on i would scribe the positive notes on conservational affairs ... mature science would be one in which we thoroughly understand the following major two topics :
continued ...