Posts Tagged ‘India’

By Deepa Padmanaban

A striking new species of crab has been found living in tree-holes high above the ground. The animal, which fits in the palm of a human hand, has a deep bluish black body that stands out against the tree bark that it prowls for worms and seeds to eat.

Scientists discovered the crab—named Kani maranjandu—in the lush forests of the Western Ghats in south India. It’s an entirely new genus and species named after the Kani, the tribal community that noticed the crabs, and maranjandu, the local colloquial term for tree crab.

The forest-dwelling Kani first reported sightings of “long-legged crabs” on trees in 2014. A. Biju Kumar, a professor of aquatic biology at the University of Kerala, was at that time leading a project to survey the Western Ghats of Kerala for freshwater crabs. After months of tracking the tree crabs with the help of the tribesmen, Kumar and his student Smrithy Raj recently managed to catch a couple of these elusive crabs.

In the Journal of Crustacean Biology, the scientists describe Kani maranjandu as having a distinct hard outer shell or carapace that is broad, swollen, and convex. Most conspicuously, the legs are extremely long, with slender, curved, sharp ends that help them get a good grip on the tree, making them effective climbers.

The crabs live in water-filled hollows of tall evergreen and deciduous trees. The Kani tribesmen detect their presence by looking for air bubbles coming out of the hollows. Outside the hollows, the crabs move rapidly on tree trunks, using their pincer-bearing thick front legs to propel themselves.

The crabs are shy creatures, retreating deep inside the hollows when approached. The younger ones take shelter in the canopy of the trees, up to about 30 feet. That’s unusual for crabs, which don’t normally climb more than a few feet into trees.

“This lifestyle of tree living indicates that, since they cannot disperse widely through the sea, their range tends to be limited to a very narrow area,” says Tohru Naruse, an expert on crab biodiversity at Japan’s University of the Ryukyus. He not involved in the discovery.

This geographical restriction could mean that any impact on their habitat could put the species at greater risk.

Biju Kumar also stresses the importance of the crab’s habitat: the large trees and forest ecosystem of the Western Ghats. The crabs’ existence hinges on rainwater collected in tree hollows, and the crabs have been observed to change trees if the hollows dry up. The broad, swollen carapace is an adaptation that helps them hold water in their gill chambers.

“It also suggests that the tree-climbing behavior and morphology of Kani maranjandu, and possibly other related, undiscovered species, has evolved where they are distributed,” adds Naruse.

For Peter K.L. Ng, a National University of Singapore biologist who helped classify Kani maranjandu, the species’ most alluring feature is how it illustrates crab evolution. “The exciting thing for me is that these crabs, regardless of where they have been found, and how they are related (or unrelated) to each other, they have nevertheless evolved to use specialized habitats to enhance their survival—in this case, tree-holes and climbing,” he says.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/new-crab-species-india-weird-wild-animals/

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Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli came alive in the jungles of Katraniyaghat in Bahraich district, 200 km from Lucknow, when local policemen rescued an eight-year-old girl from a troop of monkeys recently.

The cops had to face resistance from the simians before they could rescue the girl.

Mowgli, the man-cub protagonist of Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ was reared by wolves’ pack in ‘Seeonee hills’, now in MP.

The girl was spotted when a police party of Motinagar range in Bahariach headed by sub-inspector Suresh Yadav was on routine night patrol in the woods of Katarniyaghat.

“We spotted her playing among apes. As we tried to go near the girl, the monkeys surrounded her and some of them pounced on us,” says sub-inspector Yadav. Even the girl also resisted the cops and screeched at them.

The girl, without clothes, was significantly comfortable among the apes. She, however, was finally taken out by the police party and immediately admitted to the district hospital.

There is no lead about the family or parents of the girl who can neither talk nor can comprehend any language.

“She behaves like an ape and screams loudly if doctors try to reach out to her,” says Dr DK Singh, chief medical superintendent, Bahraich District Hospital adding that her behaviour is making her treatment difficult.

However, he says that the girl, who has been in the hospital for over two months now, is showing definite improvement in her medical condition.

The girl’s presence in the district hospital has evoked curiosity among the locals.

“As she sees anyone looking at her even from a distance, she starts growling,” says Shiraz, who is one among those visiting the strange patient in the district hospital regularly.

“When she was brought to the hospital, she had wounds all over her body. Her nails and hair were unkempt like monkeys,” says superintendent of police (City) Dinesh Tripathi.

“From her behaviour, it appears that she had been with the monkeys since birth. I visit her personally time-to-time,” Tripathi adds.

Sharing other details, Dr Singh says that the girl even walks, eats and sits like monkeys.

“Sometimes she walks on feet and suddenly comes down on all four,” says the doctor. Even while eating, the girl spreads the eatables on bed and doesn’t use hands to put them in her mouth. “She uses her mouth to pick the eatables,” says a nurse of Bahraich district hospital.

“The treatment is proving to be a difficult task for the doctors as she does not understand anything and makes noises and faces like monkeys, and attacks the doctors when they approach her,” says a junior doctor.

According to the hospital staff attending to her, the girl gets scared on seeing human beings and gets violent very often on seeing people looking at her.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/apr/06/jungle-book-redux-as-eight-year-old-found-living-amongst-monkeys-in-uttar-pradesh-1590649.html

Cockroach milk

Posted: July 28, 2016 in food
Tags: , , ,

The sight of cockroaches may evoke disgust but they can be a boon for human health, said a team of scientists who have shown that milk protein crystals found in roaches can serve as a “fantastic” protein supplement.

The team of scientists, including those from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) in Bengaluru, has recently unravelled the structure of milk proteins crystals in the guts of a roach species called Diploptera punctata, the only known viviparous cockroach (which gives birth to live young).

A single crystal is estimated to contain more than three times the energy of an equivalent mass of dairy (buffalo) milk, according to the study by inStem’s Ramaswamy group.

“The crystals are like a complete food — they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the main authors of the paper published in July in the journal from the International Union of Crystallography.

Now, armed with the gene sequences for these milk proteins, Ramaswamy and colleagues plan to use a yeast system to produce these crystals en masse.

“They’re very stable. They can be a fantastic protein supplement,” said Ramaswamy.

Furthermore, their crystalline nature offers a unique advantage. As the protein in the solution is used up, by being digested, the crystal releases protein at an equivalent rate.

“It’s time-released food,” explained Ramaswamy, adding “if you need food that is calorifically high, that is time released and food that is complete. This is it”.

Besides their utility as supplemental food, the scaffolding in the protein crystals exhibit characteristics that could be used to design nanoparticles for drug delivery.

The other scientists involved are affiliated to National Centre for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health in the US, Structural Biology Research Centre, High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation in Japan, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) in India, Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto in Canada, University of Iowa in the US and Experimental Division, Synchrotron SOLEIL in France.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Roach-milk-proteins-fantastic-food-supplement/articleshow/53268325.cms

by Eleanor Goldberg

Though nearly 1.4 billion people are at risk of developing a disfiguring disease that’s easily preventable, it remains one of the most overlooked conditions. But a powerful new campaign hopes to change that.

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that causes a host of debilitating issues, including leading body parts, like limbs and genital organs, to swell to severe proportions, according to the World Health Organization. More than 120 million people worldwide are living with elephantiasis, and a group of advocates has hatched a plan to put an end to it.

India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently unveiled its mission to launch the largest mass drug administration in history to eliminate elephantiasis, a condition that leads to inescapable social stigma in addition to physical pain. Dubbed Hathipaon Mukt Bharat, which means –- Filaria Free India -– the initiative plans to dole out medication to more than 400 million people and hopes a PSA that features the effects of the disease will urge people to get involved.

According to WHO, preventing the spread of the disease requires just one annual dose of two medications.

India is an apt place to launch the program considering that more than a third of people who are affected by the world’s neglected tropical diseases live there. If the mission is successful, it could wipe out elephantiasis in India as early as next year, according to the campaign.

Eliminating elephantiasis could do much more than just keep people from developing the disabling condition. Experts say it’s critical in the fight to curb hunger, too, Reuters recently reported.

The 17 neglected diseases, which also include sleeping sickness, yaws and dengue fever, are most prevalent in rural communities in the poorest areas of the world.

While valiant efforts have been made to bring nutrition to people who are affected by such illnesses, experts say the diseases first need to be tackled before the sufferers can reap any true benefit from such programs.

“You can spend a lot of resources distributing protein supplements or vitamins, but in the end if you’re administering them to people infested with worms then that supplement is just being eaten by the worms,” Marianne Comparet, director of the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases, told Reuters.”We very much view the NTDs as an acute program to treat a disease, but also to ensure there’s a solid foundation for the other programs to grow from.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/18/elephantiasis-india_n_6701478.html

Former Asian medalists Suresh Kumar Patel, Inderjit Patel and Soji Mathew got the shock of their life on Sunday while leading the race in half marathon when the pilot vehicle reportedly missed the U-turn on Old-airport road, leading to the trio abandoning the race in the Bengaluru marathon.

Suresh, who finished sixth in the recent Asian Games, and Soji, a former Asian cross-country champion, finally had to beg morning joggers for Rs 20 to enable them to hop on to the metro from the Indiranagar station and return to MG Road.

“There were no officials on the road where we supposed to take a U-turn (at 16km). We were following the pilot vehicle and we had covered around 20 kilometers in one hour as we were going at a pace of 2 minutes, 59 seconds per kilometer. We were hoping to finish soon when the officials asked us to turn back. At that point there was no point in continuing the race and we decided to stop,” Inderjit Patel told TOI.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/more-sports/athletics/Leading-pack-led-astray-in-farcical-Bangalore-half-marathon/articleshow/44884022.cms

teeth 1

Surgeons in Mumbai have removed 232 teeth from the mouth of an Indian teenager in what they believe may be a world-record operation.

Ashik Gavai, 17, sought medical help for a swelling on the right side of his lower jaw and the case was referred to the city’s JJ hospital, where they found he was suffering from a condition known as complex odontoma, said head of dentistry Sunanda Dhivare-Palwankar.

“We operated on Monday and it took us almost seven hours. We thought it may be a simple surgery but once we opened it there were multiple pearl-like teeth inside the jaw bone,” she said.

After removing those they found a larger “marble-like” structure that they struggled to shift and eventually had to “chisel out” and remove in fragments.

Ashik’s father, Suresh Gavai, said the family had been worried that the swelling was a malignant growth.

“I was worried that it may turn out to be cancer so I brought him to Mumbai,” Gavai told the Mumbai Mirror newspaper.

Dhivare-Palwankar said the literature they had come across on the condition showed a maximum of 37 teeth being removed in such a procedure, whereas she and her team had counted more than 232 taken from Gavai’s mouth.

“I think it could be a world record,” she said.

Gavai’s jawbone structure was maintained during the operation so it should heal without deformities, the surgeon added.

Thanks to Dr. Nakamura for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/24/indian-boy-has-232-teeth-removed

The family and followers of one of India’s wealthiest Hindu spiritual leaders are fighting a legal battle over whether he is dead or simply in a deep state of meditation.

His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious order with a property estate worth an estimated £100 million, died in January, according to his wife and son.

However, his disciples at his Ashram have refused to let the family take his body for cremation because they claim he is still alive.

According to his followers, based in the Punjab city of Jalandhar, he simply went into a deep Samadhi or meditation and they have frozen his body to preserve it for when he wakes from it.

His body is currently contained in a commercial freezer at their Ashram.

The late – or living – guru, who was in his seventies, established his sect in 1983 to promote “self-awakening to global peace” and to create a world “wherein every individual becomes an embodiment of truth, fraternity and justice through the eternal science of self-realisation”.

Today the group has thousands of followers around the world and owns dozens of large properties throughout India, the United States, South America, Australia, the Middle East and Europe, including its British headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex.

While he is thought to have died from a heart attack, his devotees believe he has simply drifted into a deeper form of the meditation he promotes as a pathway to self-realisation.

A statement on the group’s website reads: “His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj ji has been in deep meditative state (Samadhi) since 29th January 2014.”

According to one of his aides, who asked not to be named, “Maharaj has been in deep meditation. He has spent many years meditating in sub-zero temperatures in the Himalayas, there is nothing unusual in it. He will return to life as soon as he feels and we will ensure his body is preserved until then”, he said.

His body is held in a guarded room in a deep freezer on his 100 acre retreat in Nurmahal, Jalandhar, where only a few elders and sect doctors are allowed to enter.

Although Punjab Police initially confirmed his death, the Punjab High Court later dismissed its status report and local governmental officials said it was a spiritual matter and that the guru’s followers cannot be forced to believe he is dead.

Now his wife and son have filed a court application calling for an investigation into the circumstances of his death and for his body to be released for cremation.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/10860998/Indian-court-asked-to-rule-on-whether-Hindu-guru-dead-or-meditating.html