DNA Decoding Sheds Light on Neanderthal Life

DNA decoding is a powerful technique. It is a molecular level investigation tool about the life. It has helped the life scientists to say with confidence that at the molecular level, all life is identical to 99.9%. The remaining 0.1 % is all which is responsible for the vivid diversity of life.

According to one report, Neanderthals, our distant cousins, used natural drugs to alleviate the pain and diseases. 50000 years ago, they were depending on the natural cures. The ancient fossil of jaw had been studied genetically and it has been found that genetic material collected from the plaque of teeth belonged to oral bacteria and leaf pieces of  medicinal compounds.

They have found methanobrevibactor which indicates abscess. These bacteria damage the teeth and cause severe pain.

Also DNA material belonging to the bacteria Enterocytozoon bieneusi. These are intestinal bacteria and cause diarrhoea.

Populus trichocarpa Popolar tree pieces which contain salicylic acid which is an ingredient of aspirin the pain killer. It would have been effective against the pain in abscess.

Penicillium rubens are food fungus and source of medical penicillin. This natural antibiotic would have been effective against gut parasites.

Most of the material has been published in the Times of India newspaper.

Some Myths about Smartphones

There are always pros and cons in the use of many things. Like drinking water. How much is optimum? There are so many answers to it. Some say one should drink 8 glass daily while some say that body itself will tell you when you need to have water. But one thing has been established beyond doubt that drinking water is good for health.

Similarly, there are many schools of thought about Smartphones. Now there are some theories about how to keep our smartphone in good health.

Following are Seven observations which are nowadays considered myths.

  1. Task killers help speed up the smartphone.
  2. Overcharging damages the phone battery. (Except heating the machine if kept covered)
  3. Only use charger that comes with it.
  4. More megapixels translate into better quality images and videos.
  5. Multi core processor smartphones are faster.
  6. Scratch guards are necessary to avoid scratches on screen.
  7. Android phones are packed with viruses and malawares

Oriental White Eye 

It is a very small sized bird. It is immediately noticed by its greenish yellow colour plumage with its whitish breast. But most prominent feature is the white rim around its eyes. The bird is widespread in Asia. Both sexes are alike in appearance.

It is very timid and restless bird. It mostly resides in the thick branches where it hides itself. It eats insects which are deposited on the leaves. It also eat the nectar of some flowers.

It is either hiding in the shade of branches or is so restless that it takes great patience to take good photographs. Only when it comes in open  momentarily for few seconds is the your chance to take good pics.

There is a bush in the herbal park in Panchkula, which has its leaves covered with insects larvae and deposits. These birds gorge themselves on these insects and it was here, I could manage to take some good pictures.


Indian Roller or Neelkanth 

Indian Roller or Neelkanth is a beautiful bird. It is seen here in the north india from summer and till winters. Usually one can spot the bird sitting on the transmission lines passing over the fields or on the top of trees like mangoes.

It sits at one place for a long periods of time. It swoops down to catch insects like beetles or grasshoppers. It is not easily scared when you take pictures.

The bird is about 26–27 cm long. It is similar in appearance to European rollers which are also here during summer. The difference is that breast is brownish and not blue as in the European Roller. The crown and vent are blue. The primaries are deep purplish blue with a band of pale blue. The tail is sky blue with a terminal band of Prussian blue and the central feathers are dull green. The neck and throat are purplish lilac with white shaft streaks. The bare patch around the eye is ochre in colour. The three forward toes are united at the base. Rollers have a long and compressed bill with a curved upper edge and a hooked tip. The nostril is long and exposed and there are long rictal bristles at the base of the bill.

The bird is associated with Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology and is considered to be a good omen if it is seen on Dusshehra or Diwali.

General morphology of a bird is given below

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During my visits to the fields or open areas near my residence, I have come across this bird many times and have taken quite a few pictures.

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50 Years of IR8 :: The rice variety which saved the world

Rice is the staple food of millions in South East Asia. People in South India and North East grow rice as the main crop. It is eaten with fish. It is the rice, that ushered green revolution in India and brought India back from the jaws of starvation. Punjab became the leader in growing the rice, a crop which was alien to North india as most people liked wheat. It is another matter that Punjab has to pay a untold price for feeding the Indian population.

Story of IR8 Rice

A few days back, it was 50 years ago, the rice variety nicknamed IR8 was launched and it saved millions in Asia and particularly in India from starvation and acted as a launchpad for Green Revolution in India.

It was almost a famine like situation in this area. The available production of edibles was insufficient to cope with the requirement. Traditional varieties of rice took 160 to 180 days for the crop cycle and yields were low.

The rice variety was developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which is based in Manila and works under FAO. The strain matures in 130 days and has higher yields for the same nitrogen consumption.

In the year 1962, the Institute made a cross variety using Peta, a Indonesian tall, pest resistant and vigorous variety with a dwarf Chinese variety called dee-geo-woo-gen (DGWG) in the laboratory.

During field tests in Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan using the variety named IR8-288-3 showed great promise and yields it gave were almost 9 times the existing from 1 ton per hectare to 9 ton per hectare.

In Andhra Pradesh, a farmer called Nekkanti Subba Rao, experimented and sowed this rice in 2000 acres in Atchanta in West godavari. He earned the nickname of “Mr.IR8”.

The variety was commercially introduced in 1967 in the Vietnam during the American war.

The variety became popular worldwide and earned local nicknames worldwide. For example in Burma it is called Magyaw, Padi Ria in Malaysia ,Peta Baru 8 in Indonesia, Milagaru Philipino in Mexico . It was grown in Pakistan, India, Taiwan, China, and even in US.

In an interesting tale, a farmer K.N.Ganesan of Tamil Nadu named one of his sons “Irretu” meaning IR8 in Tamil.

Similarly in Vietnam the rice came to known as Honda rice as its bumper harvest enabled one farmer to purchase an Honda motorcycle.

 

 

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)

I first spotted this bird perched on a electric transmission wire. The area underneath was all shrubs. It was in the hot monsoon season. The bird has a very strange plumage pattern of brown and cream stripes.

It’s name is Eurasian Wryneck and here it comes on migration. It belongs to the woodpecker family although it’s beak is not as large and dagger like as the other woodpeckers. It subsists on ants and insects which are found in the dead wood.

It can rotate it’s neck by almost 180 degrees. When it senses danger, it makes a hissing sound. The word Jinx has its origins in the bird.

After that, I spotted it few times. The latest encounter being in the month of December although it has become very cold here. I took some beautiful pictures of this bird.

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Some pictures of Scaly breasted Munia 

Scaly breasted Munia is a very small but attractive bird. They are very agile and combined with their small size , it becomes very difficult to take good pictures. Nevertheless, with patience and luck which are two most important qualities to capture a bird in nice photograph, I have taken a few pictures.

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