Monday, May 28, 2012

Life finds a way....

Even as the list of endangered species is increasing and the rampant industrialization and environmental dangers are posing a great threat to the wildlife habitats over the world, new species have also been discovered. This is both remarkable and amazing because, it shows and reflects the resilient nature of life on earth. It also shows how species adapt themselves to the environmental changes in spite of the great dangers posed by factors such as global warming, ozone depletion, pollution and other man made factors. 
Recently many new species have been found in remote and inaccessible parts of the world and also many new types of life have been discovered in the ocean depths in conditions regarded by many as impossible to live. For instance, Tubeworms have been found feeding on the chemicals emitted by the hydro-thermal vents in the Atlantic ocean floor, where temperatures are very hot. Recent explorations to the deepest point on earth, The Challenger Deep, in the Pacific Ocean, revealed many types of single-celled organisms called Foraminifera, organisms that construct shells. They were found in the sample of dirt from the ocean floor, where the water pressure is equivalent to 50 Jumbo jets piled on top of you. 
These new forms of life shows optimism that life finds a way to blossom and to spring itself, as the legendary Phoenix, the mythical firebird that rises from the ashes, to be born again. In 2008, over 1,25,000 western lowland gorillas have been found in the tropical dense forests of Congo. Recently 12 new frog species were discovered in the ecologically fragile, western ghats of India. Every year, the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University along with an international committee of taxonomists scientists who classify and describe new species choose their 10 favorites. These includes :

Sneezing monkey - A snub-nosed monkey found in the mountains of Myanmar, Rhinopithecus strykeri is named in honor of Jon Stryker, founder of the Arcus Foundation. Believed to be critically endangered, it has mostly black fur and a white beard, and it sneezes when it rains. 

Bonaire banded box jelly - This strikingly beautiful but highly lethal jellyfish looks like a box kite with a colorful long tail. Found on the Dutch island of Bonaire, it is named Tamoya ohboya because a teacher in a citizen science project thought a victim might scream "Oh boy!" when stung.

Devil's worm - Only 0.02 inches long, these nematodes were discovered at a depth of 0.8 mile in a South African gold mine and are the deepest-living multicellular organisms on the planet. It was named Halicephalobus mephisto from the Faust legend because it survives at high pressures and temperatures.

Night blooming orchid - This rare orchid from Papua New Guinea has flowers that open around 10 p.m. and close early the next morning. Named Bulbophyllum nocturnum, it is the only orchid known to bloom at night.

Parasitic wasp - This tiny parasite from Spain cruises at just a half-inch off the ground looking for ants, into which it inserts an egg in less than 1/20th of a second.

SpongeBob SquarePants mushroom - This new species of fungus, named Spongiforma squarepantsii, looks more like a sponge than a typical mushroom. From the island of Borneo in Malaysia, the mushroom is unusual in that its fruiting body can be squeezed like a sponge and still bounce back into shape.

Nepalese autumn poppy - This tall, yellow poppy from Nepal lives at altitudes above 19,800 feet. Named Meconopsis autumnalis because it blooms in autumn, it is thought to have been collected before, but not recognized as a distinct species.

Giant millipede - This giant millipede from Tanzania's Eastern Arc Mountains is about the length of a sausage and is called the "wandering leg sausage," hence the name Crurifarcimen vagans. At 6.3 inches long, it is the world's largest millipede; it has 56 rings, each bearing two pairs of legs.

Walking cactus - This fossil of an extinct group known as Lobopodia looks more like a cactus than an animal, with its wormlike bodies and multiple pairs of legs. Named Diania cactiformis, the 520-million-year-old specimen was found in Cambrian deposits in southwestern China.

Sazima's tarantula - This iridescent hairy blue tarantula is the first new species from Brazil to be named to the top 10 list. It is called Pterinopelma sazimai and is found on "island" ecosystems on flattop mountains.

All these reminds me of the conversation that takes place in the Hollywood movie Jurassic Park, between a group of leading scientists sitting together in a scene. The park is made by genetically engineering the DNA of dinosaurs and then to clone them so that people have a glimpse of how life was, billions of years ago. They are discussing ways to make the park a leading attraction on earth, but one scientist, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) objects to such a idea, saying it a "rape of the natural world." He could not figure out how such a genetically engineered dinosaur species can be controlled by a park. He is of the view that we do not have the power to control the dangers posed by such an act. Because the dangers are not foreseen by us. This conversation itself, summarizes the whole theme of the movie.

The movie also makes clear the fact that nature has a way to amaze and trick even the most advanced technology available to man. It has a way to protect itself and to reproduce itself in the most remarkable, even hostile conditions.

So protect nature, respect it for what it gives you. Save it, save life itself.


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