What is a Pufferfish?Animal Behind Mystery Circles On Seafloor

This tiny architect—which builds elaborate nests to woo females.

There are 120 pufferfish species in the Tetraodontidae family. The fish live in warm, coastal waters around the world, and some even live in fresh water. They tend to have tapered, torpedo-shaped bodies with bulbous heads and large eyes.

A male pufferfish (center) made this nest to lure females in Japan in 2012. Photograph courtesy Kimiaki Ito

Puff Up

Pufferfish are best known for their ability to “puff up” into a ball several times their normal size. Scientists think the fish developed this defense to compensate for their slow, clumsy swimming style.

A pufferfish might look like an easy meal to a predator, but if pursued, it will quickly fill its extremely elastic stomach with large amounts of water, making itself much bigger and nearly spherical in shape .

Dangerous Delicacy

Despite the risks of ingesting tetrodotoxin, pufferfish are a delicacy in many parts of the world.

In Japan,  trained and licensed chefs may prepare pufferfish, known as fugu. Young chefs spend years learning how to properly prepare fugu, making sure that it is free of the toxic liver, gonads, and skin. Even with these precautions, several people die each year after ingesting improperly prepared fugu dishes.

Zombie Fish

The pufferfish’s tetrodotoxin is so powerful that some believe it even has the power to create real-life zombies.

In the 1980s, ethnobotanist Wade Davis—now a National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence—traveled to Haiti to investigate reports of zombification. During his research, Davis discovered that the voodoo sorcerers believed to be capable of turning people into zombies used homemade powders in their rituals. Davis collected and tested samples of zombie powders and discovered they contained pufferfish tetrodotoxin.

read the story here

Indian Cities:Some General Characteristics

English: View of Dal Lake and the city of Srin...

English: View of Dal Lake and the city of Srinagar from Shankaracharya Hill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although it is true that it is very difficult to see generality in towns because towns in India and in the world are system in themselves some similarities can be seen in the cities . Besides that in general the towns are so unique individually that even categorizing two cities in one single category poses many problems. Nevertheless a pattern emerges in organization and there are some similarity in characteristics of India towns. A modest attempt has been done here to list some of their characteristics.

          Strong Agricultural Base

 In a great majority of cases towns have still very strong agricultural elements within them. The smaller ones are indeed little more than large market villages with the same very local administrative function added; perhaps two or three central streets inadequately paved and lighted give the semblance of an urban formation. Even in so large a city as Agra herds of dairy buffaloes are driven out in the morning, back in the evening ‘hour of cow-dust’.

           Administrative Base

 Large number of towns are primarily administrative : they may have been local commercial centres and market villages picked as headquarters of districts or their sub-divisions mainly on account of centrality. For the most part these have a strikingly uniform cast, owing to the alien and hierarchical character of the administration of British India.

          Mixed Residential pattern And Disticttiveness Too!!

  Most Indian cities (and large sections of even the greatest of them) have not separated residential and other functions to the same extent as occidental towns.

            Yet if the separation of work from residence often hardly exists, there is a very strong tendency (at all lends from village to metropolis) for members of each religious community, caste or race to live together. This is only to be expected in the general social context of India. Notable examples are the pols of Ahmedabad and the Parsee housing estates of Mumbai and where there are very large number of Chinese, has in Calcutta there is a China town – as indeed happens universally.

            The British in India as it were fused this communal separatism with their own emphasis on class. Large Indian cities generally consist of two entirely distinct areas ; the old Indian city, a squalid but picturesque confusion and the monotonously planned open-developed town of European style bungalows with large gardens along straight, broad roads, aloof and boring in a high degree and absolutely dead in the heat of the day. These two are very often separated by the railway which – in some cases apparently by design – forms a broad barrier with few crossings ; the motivation of ‘Internal security’ is obvious. The ‘Civil tines’ contain the official residence of the local bureaucracy and such hangera-on as the more flourishing layers; architecture is European. The railway colony is generally on a far less generous scale, but on the mathematically rectilinear lines. The cantonment explain themselves, but they generally had a little Indian enclave, the bazaar to serve the needs, material and some times other, f the troops : this was necessary as for the most obvious reasons the Indian city was strictly out of bounds.

            Colonial Heritage

Although this distinction (between the main city and civil line area) is fading fast but to this date most of the cities retain their colonial heritage.

            Post Indepence Cities

Although this is true for the old cities of India but the newly developed cities which are developed in the post independence period has a character of their own, the tendency now is that of small towns developing into big cities with infrastructural links.

Chemical Culprit Behind Indian Poisoning

The pesticides blamed for killing at least 25 children in India are widely used around the world and health experts have raised safety concerns about this class of chemicals in the past also.

Known as organophosphates, the pesticides were developed in Germany in the 1940s and soon became an important defense against agricultural pests.

They are extremely toxic.

The Indian children, aged four to 12, fell ill on Tuesday after eating a lunch consisting of rice, soybeans, and lentils in the village of Mashrakh in the eastern state of Bihar.

The school that the children attended provided free meals under a nationwide program known as the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. Early reports suggest the food—perhaps the rice or the cooking oil used to prepare the food—contained unsafe levels of the pesticide.

Upon entering the body—through ingestion, inhalation, or contact with skin—organophosphates inhibit cholinesterase, an enzyme in the human nervous system that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that carries signals between nerves and muscles.

When cholinesterase is inactivated, acetylcholine builds up in the nerves, which become overactive. Victims of organophosphate poisoning typically die because they can’t breathe.

“It’s a painful way to die,” Boyd Barr said. “You end up suffocating because you are essentially paralyzed.”

The risk of death depends on the amount of exposure and the age of the victim. The symptoms tend to be more severe in young children.

“They’re more vulnerable because their detoxification systems are more immature, so they can’t eliminate the pesticide as well,” Boyd Barr explained.

Doctors typically treat organophosphate poisoning with atropine to alleviate the symptoms and help the patient feel better, and oxine to help replenish the body’s store of cholinesterase.

Small Amounts Tolerated

In the United States, a small amount of organophosphates on crops after harvesting is tolerated and farmers take care to ensure that the amounts don’t reach dangerously high levels.

But in countries such as India, where regulations may not be as strict or the implementation and enforcement of regulations are not as effective, the likelihood of organophosphate poisoning through the contamination of food can be higher, Boyd Barr said.

The Indian school case is not the first instance of organophosphate poisoning: In 1986, more than 20 people in Sierra Leone, many of them children, died after eating bread made with flour that was transported in a truck that was previously used to carry organophosphates.

While high-level exposure to organophosphates can lead to death in the short term, several studies have suggested that chronic low-level exposure can also have serious health consequences, especially for infants and young children.

Source(s): Nat Geo


Net migration rates for 2008: positive (blue), negative (orange), stable (green), and no data (gray)

Migration is defined as movement by humans from one place to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic people have retained this form of lifestyle.

Migration has continued with time under the form of both voluntary migration

Mitochondrial DNA-based chart of large human migrations (Numbers are thousands before present.)

within one’s region, country, or beyond and involuntary migration (which includes the slave trade, trafficking in human beings and ethnic cleansing). People who migrate into a territory are called immigrants, while at the departure point they are called emigrants.

Small populations migrating to develop a territory considered void of settlement depending on historical setting, circumstances and perspective are referred to as settlers or colonists, while populations displaced by immigration and colonization are called refugees.

read here