Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter spit? Wonder Nymph!

As I rose one day early in a winter morning and walked through the meadow, I found the indecent behaviour of somebody spiting out on the grass. There was the spittle on the leaf blade of the grass clasping it around. I was irritated about it and walked carefully avoiding it. Later I wondered to know from an article in a daily that it is an act by an insect's nymph and not by a human!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reproducing Larva - the Axolotl!

We usually see that from egg caterpillar comes out, butterfly grows out of it and fly away. But in a type of Salamander (an Amphibian) its growth into an adult is hindered and it is stopped in its larval stage itself. This larva starts also to reproduce! This animal is Axolotl (Ambystroma mexicana, Mole Salamander, 'Mexican walking fish,' 'Waterdog').

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tunneling bird, the Kingfisher!

If you go near a tree and a blue bird flies out with a high pitched sound startling you, it might be a Kingfisher. Here in urban South India we frequently spot this tree kingfisher, called as White-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon fusca, 'Meenkotthi' in Tamil).

Friday, November 26, 2010

A wonder herb, called Banana!

I had wondered in my younger days that how banana leaves are seen coming out of wayside dunes. In closer view I found out that they grew out of corms that were disposed off from the nearby plantations. This Banana tree (Musa paradisiaca, Sweet banana, Dessert banana, 'Vazhlaippazhlam' in Tamil) yields the fruits that we, the humans, apes, elephants and many other animals relish on. It is not a tree but a herbaceous plant!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The courtship wonder in Dragonflies!

I had often seen Dragonflies fly low over ponds touching the water surface now and then with their ends. And I have also seen them flying in pairs one behind the other, and wondered about them. These are the reproductive displays by virtue of their nature. We shall see about this interesting displays here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hummingbird or Hawk Moth? Find it here!

Last spring, I spotted a smallest bird of about one inch length fly past my guava tree. I wondered about it that I have discovered a tiny bird myself. Recently I was in my garden standing before the Periwinkle plant that was in its full bloom. To my amazement that tiny bird I discovered earlier came into the scene again; it visited each flower; collected nectar like a hummingbird and flew away!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Colour the skies with Fireworks!

Each morning as it dawns, we see different colours displayed by Nature before our eyes. But at night's darkness we don't see anything colourful around us. But we can get here our environment coloured, and get also our skies coloured - by using Fireworks! (Pyrotechnics). Attracted by the colours produced by the fireworks, I tried some experiments myself then as a school student.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Capillaries save the Brain!

To have a free flow of water in channels we shall have to desilt it periodically. That is also being done in our body to have a free flow of blood to our brain. Pressure of blood flow dislodges any block such as clots or cholesterol present inside the blood vessels, or enzymes are rushed to the block's site and is dissolved by it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The mermaid tale of Mudskipper!

In books of comics, mermaids were shown as heroines/princesses of the tales. Mermaids have a female human body and a fish tail instead of the legs. Though their existence is fictitious only, they are compared with the mammals, Sea cows (Dugong) here. I too find an another animal resembling a mermaid.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anting, a tactic in birds!

I have seen birds fall down to the ground, stretch out their wings and fight with each other for territorial claims. Yet there are some birds that do this wing stretching solitary. It is not their sun-bathing or an act to catch their prey. But it is a tactic called as Anting.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Elephant Apple, the wonder fruit!

I had wondered in my childhood how an elephant could digest the contents of a fruit without breaking its hard shell. My sisters had informed me about this that elephant swallows the entire fruit, and after digestion we could see the whole fruit intact in its dung - but without its contents! It explains well about the great digestive power of the animal but it may be an exaggeration. OK. What is that fruit?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tithis, the rule of Hindu families!

It is a well known fact that every Hindu temple ritual is being conducted on certain fixed and approved days of the month. These days' names can be found printed on each date-slip of a daily calendar. Do they belong to Astrology only? No, they have been so named simply, with respect to the phases of Moon only. They are called as Tithis (Lunar days, 'Thithis' in Tamil). For every thirty days these tithis repeat themselves. Among them there are two groups each having fifteen tithis.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Scaring Centipedes are beautiful!

One day I was walking barefooted on the cellar of the house. I felt a pinching pain on one of my toes. I found a vermin move away from my foot. It is the Common Centipede (Scutigera forceps, 'Pooraan' in Tamil)! Though its name implies that it has hundred legs, it has only fifteen pairs of legs.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Making oneself invisible - by Camouflage!

The word, camouflage was introduced to me when I joined N.C.C. (National Cadet Corps) at school. Then the ways of camouflaging practiced in battlefield were taught. Later I learned that animals also practice this camouflaging to evade a predator attack. Animals change their colors similar to that of their surrounding environment to become invisible!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The mighty Borosilicate Glass!

While doing certain household experiments as a school boy, I was shocked in two incidents to see my experimenting work spoiled. First one occurred when the glass bottle in which I had poured hot water broke down and the other one when I poured water in a hot glass bottle ('Horlicks bottle', as it was called then) - it cracked and fell down in pieces! My efforts to set up a 'home laboratory' was thus shattered!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stapes, the smallest wonder bone of us!

We, the human beings, are the medium-sized member in the Mammal group of this world. We bear in our body the smallest bone that measures only 3mm in length and 3mg in weight! It is the Stapes bone (Stirrup bone). It is one of the three auditory ossicles (bones) found in the Middle ear of us, one on each side. It is the innermost bone. The other bones are the Incus present in the middle and the Malleus in the outer side.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chameleon, the turncoat!

We call turncoats as 'Chameleons' ('Pacshondhi' in Tamil), comparing their changing character! Though this Common Chameleon (Chameleo chameleon) is popular for its changing its color, it is not easily seen here. But this animal has many other special modifications also, like mobile eyes, long extrudable tongue, prehensile tail. Its toes are found fused in into two groups - an adaptation for climbing up the tree with good grip.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sunbird, Honeyeater, Hummingbird - compared!

Finding out small birds makes the hobby of Bird-watching quite interesting. Unless we search eagerly for their details of identification these birds will seem to be of one and the same kind of birds! For example, Sunbirds, Honeyeaters and Hummingbirds are there. Though these birds have a common feeding style of taking in nectar (sweet fluid of flowers), they are different and are not related!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Smell here the aromatic Sweet Basil!

In my school age days I was sent by my sister to buy Sabza seeds at groceries shop. She used the seeds to reduce her body heat. She soaked them in water overnight before drinking it on the next morning. I used to peep into the tumbler to see the wonder that the water in it had disappeared and that the seeds then had a white mucilaginous covering. The seeds also became sliding on the tongue and palate! I later found that these seeds are that of the Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum, 'Thiruneetrupatchai' or 'Karunthulasi' in Tamil).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Twittering again about Nature's wonders!

We have seen already about
the already observed and recorded wonders. But such wonders are still happening around us to be seen and recorded. I exhibit (twit!) here some of such wonder pictures for your viewing:

Bagworm uses here a strip of Jowar plant as its cocoon material (we had seen earlier a Bagworm using small sticks or thorns)!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rabbits take yucky for health!

In Nature everything is happening with an inner meaning or intention. It may look absurd and dirty. But in animals it is done for goodness - the health. I refer here to Coprophagy, the act of taking one's own faeces. For example, Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus, 'Muyal' in Tamil) does this!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Spiral Eye makes threading easy!

Now, I experience it as a tough task- the threading in a needle, as my mom had in my teen years. Either I trim and moisten the end of the thread or push a steel blade's edge into the needle's eye to clear it and try, and retry threading. This job was earlier simplified by using a Threader. But now a lady has invented a fool proof sewing needle.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Animals living without Oxygen!

For any living animal Oxygen is the basic requirement. Without Oxygen there will be no life in it. Recently there was a news about the discovery of creatures living about 3.5 kilometers under the Mediterranean Sea where there is no Oxygen at all!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Carry on, Marsupial Frogs!

We have seen about parental care towards young ones in earlier blog posts. Now a frog shows it here. It is the Marsupial Frog (Gastrotheca riobambae, Andean Marsupial Treefrog). Both the male and female frogs take much care both in fertilization and bringing up the young ones. Unlike other frogs, this female marsupial frog has a brood pouch on its back.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Green Bee-eater tactics are here!

At evening just before dusk I used to hear a bird's call nearby the house. When I peeped out I could see small greenish birds sitting on the electric line giving out the call, 'druee, druee, druee.' When disturbed all of them would fly away singing in chorus. They are the Green Bee-eaters (Merops orientalis , Little Green Bee-eater, 'Punchuruttaan' in Tamil).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Purple Orchid Tree, the most sought!

Orchid flowers are very beautiful. But the orchids are difficult to grow and have these flowers. There is an easily grown tropical tree that bears flowers resembling Orchid flowers! It is the Purple Orchid Tree (Bauhnia purpurea, Butterfly Tree, Purple Camel's foot, 'Iruvaatchi' in Tamil). Its flowers are pink and fragrant.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Busy worker, the Black carpenter ant!

Every day we have this visitor from the animal kingdom into our household. It searches here and there for small food particles. If it finds out something attractive, it hurries out and returns with a flotilla of its companions following in a line, one after the other: it is nothing but our active Black Carpenter Ant (Worker) (Camponotus pennsylvanicus, 'Katterumbu' in Tamil)!

Friday, June 11, 2010

A spring in Summer, Artesian spring!

In my childhood I was shown the wonder of getting water by simply digging with hands a half a foot deep pit in the sand of river bed! Recently, I encountered a mystery of getting water without even this digging. An old dug-up storm water drain nearby is always dry except in rainy season. In the previous summer, to my amazement I witnessed water gushing out from its floor!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Garden in glass jar - Silica Garden!

Whatever present in the Nature is mimicked, it will wonder us, is it not? A garden with colorful trees present inside a glass jar(!) is the wonder here - the Chemical garden or the Silica garden! This jar contains a solution of Sodium silicate (common name: Water glass). Inside it small crystals of various metallic salts are placed. Then the colorful trees start to grow instantly and visibly in minutes!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Be active, limit intake - for losing weight!

World wide personal problem is our body weight! I see many blogs that are entirely dedicated to posting on 'Weight losing.' Books and magazines quite often carry articles on this weight losing. These indicate that there is a global problem: Obesity. Once I found myself gaining weight due to insufficient activities and high intake of excessively nutritious diet.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Extraordinary animal, the Seahorse!

It will be funny to see a tiny horse head to move about inside a aquarium tank, isn't it? It will also be exciting to see it as a 'mermaid' of horse! It is a Seahorse (Hippocampus kuda, 'Kadal kuthirai' in Tamil). It is not a mammal; but it is actually a bony fish! It lives in sheltered shallow waters containing coral reefs and sea weeds.

Friday, May 14, 2010

An evening wonder - Night Heron!

As a little boy
I was shown some flying birds that flew past on the sky at dusk. (By doing this my sisters were clever in diverting my attention while they were on babysitting duty!). Those birds make sounds all through such flights as 'qwakgaa, qwakgaa'! I know now what is this bird, that made me curious and wondering, and also introduced me to the hobby, Bird-watching!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Candle Bush having worthy medicines!

I found one day a plant among bushes on the wayside, becoming prominent by popping up by itself with its bright yellow heads. It had large leaves and had grown profusely within a shorter period of time. It was exactly like a robust Senna plant, as if it was from the era of Dinosaurs! I also found grannies picking up its leaves for preparing home remedies for illnesses (Granny's medical treatment, 'Paati Vaithyam' in Tamil!).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shroud of smell reveals the Shrew!

In the previous year, one day, I had my nose detecting some musky odor as I entered the junk room of my house. There, down on the floor some patches of oily matter were seen. That smelt musky. My sixth sense indicated me that there must be an intruder. I was right: there was a Musk Shrew (Asian House Shrew, Suncus murinus)!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stitch Ripper makes ripping easy!

I find often labels stuck to the cloths that I wear. These labels advertise about the company or the tailor which are unwanted and unsightly marring the good appearance of the cloths. Should I bear them on me always, wherever I go wearing the cloths? I am sure that I shall be unable to remove those labels easily - with a razor blade or by using a stitching needle.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Microbes hosted by generations of Termites and Man!

Usually we think that microbes are harmful and that they
impair our health. But here is an example for their good beneficial work without which our Termite (Mastotermes darwinensis) cannot live at all! Protozoan (Trichonympha) and other Microbes live in the guts of these termites and aid in the digestion of Cellulose of plant materials by secreting out the enzyme, Cellulase - to release energy from it! (Note here the fact that humans are also weak to digest cellulose!).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wonder magnet that attracted me!

A hitherto lifeless inanimate thing starts now to move about - this will amaze you, is it not? In childhood I too wondered this when an iron piece 'went by itself' to attach with a pocket magnet! With the magnet I used to go on testing all the objects in the house. Some coins were attracted by it while others were not. Quality ever- silver utensils were not attracted and so on ....!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Twittering about a tree, bug and a mite!

After an event in life other events follow. The question that arises within us after knowing about that prime event is: What happened next? I had informed about the unexpected cutting down of my Indian Coral Tree in one of my previous posts (Read it here). Now the tree has grown up and bloomed!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Common House Lizard, your Companion!

The first animal that usually becomes a member of an Indian household (disapprovingly) is a lizard creeping on the wall or the ceiling. It is the Common House Lizard - the Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus, 'Palli' or 'Gouli' in Tamil). It is a silent nocturnal lizard. But sometimes it makes sounds suddenly, that alerts and stuns us. Beliefs are attached with its sounds: that its such utterance at that instant means that the decision being made by the person is agreed and approved by it also! Another belief is that it foretells an impending event! I heard also such sounds when these lizards chase and fight or mate.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wasps paint walls with antibiotics!

In the past, man grew fungus and found out that it produced a substance that killed other disease - producing germs. It is the science about the production of Penicillin from the fungus, Penicillium notatum. But in the remote past millions of years ago wasps had found this fact and used this technique in protecting their developing offspring, the larvae! Yes, the Beewolf wasps (Philanthus crabroniformis) produce a cocktail of antibacterial substances from Streptomyces since ages.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Common Tailorbird cobbling its nest!

One bird that I watched and wondered in my childhood made me to continue Bird-watching as a hobby. It is the Common Tailorbird (Orthotonus sutorius, 'Thaiyal kuruvi' in Tamil). What attracted me to it so much? It is its tiny size compared to that of a hen, its incessant calls, its upright moving tail and its amazing behavior of nest - building!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cooling under Indian Almond Tree!

Then, in 1960s, here in my home town a lane was called after a tree that had been grown along its side. It was called as 'Vaadhaankottaimara Theru' (in Tamil). That tree's common English name is Indian Almond Tree ('Terminalia cattappa', Tropical Almond, ' Vadhaankottai maram' in Tamil)! The tree is characteristic with all its broad, large and deep greenish leaves that turn bright red before they fall down.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Exciting Annular Solar Eclipse 2010!

When we are behind an object we will not be able to see any object that lies in front of it. It was learned by us as a child's play in our childhood. That is happening in a celestial hiding too - the Solar eclipse or the Lunar eclipse. In January 15th of this year 2010, here in Tamil Nadu of South India, we had the chance of viewing the Annular Solar Eclipse - an exact central fitting of Moon on the Sun leaving only an outer ring of Sun's disc unobstructed. This event was the longest one of this millennium; it happened at afternoon. I viewed it around 1.30pm IST. The following were also seen as an effect during the eclipse affecting the environment:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Infant care in Wolf Spiders!

We expect exciting mysteries to happen at nights rather than at daytime. Two years back at night I found a mysterious thing lying on the portico of the house. It was like a small fluff of wool lying flat on the floor. As I approached it to clear it away, my son alerted me that it was moving. So, I took a small twig in my hand and touched it carefully to test: there were seen many 'movements' out of that main one!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lotus heats its chamber for bees!

When guests come, we as humans offer them all food and facilities with much hospitality. Then it is needless to to say how much hospitality will be there for those visitors who bring with them some advantages for us. Such a hospitality exists in plants also. Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera, 'Thamarai' in Tamil) exhibits it to the visiting bees.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Needle Threader eases your eyes!

In our human life, at each phase of our age we have our own best performing activities. Equally, at the same time we have also the impairment of our other activities that we did well in our earlier phase! Such an activity is the impairment of close print reading (viewing) ability of the eye, called as Presbyopia. When I was a school student my mother had given me often thread and a stitching (sewing) needle to thread through the needle's eye for her.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Curing Diabetes with EndoBarrier!

Diabetes, as you know, has now become a global disease affecting human lives in many countries. It is related to Obesity: obese people are more prone to develop Diabetes. So far, the reduction of obesity has been tried with risky surgical operations. Now, a non-surgical treatment for it has been devised. It aids also in reversing Diabetes (Type 2) that has its onset in a person
just now!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ready mates to mate IN Anglerfish!

Usually humans learn from animals and use those animals' technologies in machines, such as airplane etc.
A bony fish uses a tactic to catch its prey that we humans use! It fishes(!) with an angling rod and a bait as we do in angling! The fish is the Anglerfish (Frogfish). It has a fleshy 'rod' hanging from its head that serves as a bait to lure the preys into its mouth and devour.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Indian Robin rocks here!

A different thing having unusual size, color or movement attracts always our attention towards it. A tiny bird with black color and jerky flights is an example for it. It is the Indian Robin (Saxicoloides fulicatus, 'Kall
ukkuruvi' in Tamil). It is found in open grounds perching on rocks, hopping around and catching insects. It keeps its tail always up; but occasionally wags it down.
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