Tag Archives: science

Beware of Bezoars (03/18)

I will spare you, and not post a picture of this:

bezoar – A ball of food, mucus, vegetable fiber, hair, or other material that cannot be digested in the stomach. Bezoars can cause blockage, ulcers, and bleeding.

In other words, a hairball.

But I am not talking about a cat here.

Humans and cud-chewing animals, such as cows, oxen, sheep, goats, llamas, deer, and antelopes get hairballs or other types of “bezoars”.

“Bezoar” is a Persian word that means “protection from poison,” because bezoars were believed to be a universal antidote against poisoning.

to see pictures and read more click here.

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Rats & Bamboo (03/05)

When I learned about the phenomena which you are about to read about  – I was astounded.

No matter how many rats the farmers of Mizoram kill, dump into piles and then set alight, it seems there are always more of the rodents to take their place.

In an unlikely cycle which takes place every 48 years, the north-east Indian state has been struck with food shortages and hardship after the flowering of a particular species of bamboo which provides an easy and ready source of food for rats.

The remarkable plant bringing misery and despair to Mizoram, sandwiched between Burma in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west, is muli bamboo (Melocanna baccifera) which flowers only twice every century. The state is covered with bamboo forests and every time the muli flowers, rats feed on its seeds and their population soars. Some experts even believe the seeds increase the rats’ fertility.

In the local Mizo language, the term for this cyclical phenomenon is mautam, and oral histories tell of mautam famines in both 1911 and 1862, when the flowering took place. In 1958-59, about 100 people starved to death as a result. Those deaths and the subsequent public anger also helped to fuel a 20-year war between Mizoram separatists and the federal government. The current state administration, headed by a former guerrilla leader, has been preparing for the next mautam for several years.

from Independent World

Fruit from Muli Bamboo

Fruit from Muli Bamboo (& a dead rat)

See view times for NOVA special here.

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Willow Trees (02/26)

The Weeping Willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees. I loved standing under them when I was little, it always felt like a secret magical world.

Weeping Willow

Weeping Willow

As it turns out, there is something magical about the Willow tree…

It has medicinal properties and its leaves and bark been mentioned in ancient texts from Assyria, Sumer and Egypt as as a remedy for aches and fever, and the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about its medicinal properties in the 5th century BC. Native Americans across the American continent relied on it as a staple of their medical treatments. This is because they contain salicylic acid, the precursor to aspirin.

(I thank Paul Harvey and Wikipedia for this information.)

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Do You Know Bonobos? (02/20)

You should, they are our closest ape relative. They are only  found in the wild in the Democratic Republic of Congo and are not usually in zoos due to their highly sexual behavior (it’s true!).The following video is a tad long, but I promise that it will be worth it

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To Cull or Not to Cull (02/19)

I was struck by this image

 	 Kruger National Park, South Africa. A view of an elephant fetus from a culled female

Kruger National Park, South Africa. A view of an elephant fetus from a culled female

and its caption. What is a culled female?

cull |kəl|
verb [ trans. ] (usu. be culled)
• reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter : he sees culling deer as a necessity | [as n. ] ( culling) elephant culling.

As you might imagine, it is a highly controversial topic.

Here is brief take on the issues in Kruger National Park:

On one hand, the increased South African population of elephants is a good thing. It means that conservation efforts are working and poaching for ivory is on the decline. On the other hand, the repopulation has been so dramatic that  it threatens other species.

In fact, since culling was brought to a stop in 1994 the elephant population in Kruger National Park has nearly doubled (from 7,000 to 13,000).

(according to a 2005 article on the BBC’s website)

Culling is also an issue in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Here the issue is not elephants (naturally), but elk. The reason being that biologists believe the elk population is decimating new growth aspen trees and willows.

(read more)

I won’t go into my opinion about this matter, but  I will say this – it does remind me of the ‘old lady who swallowed the fly’. You know the song, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly, I don’t know why she swallowed the fly…etc)

(maybe we should start a new version “she culled the elk to save the trees, I don’t know why she culled the elk…)

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