biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow parasites

Advantages of Handicaps and Entertaining Parasites: such situations do exist

Situations in which it can be an advantage to possess a handicap do exist and not just for men who want to avoid having to serve in the army, or girls with big breasts who can’t run or jump well but may get a movie contract, or individuals who exaggerate a condition in order to be selected to participate in the Paralympics. When visiting the Apatani in Arunachal Pradesh (India), the explanation given to me why their women used to have large holes with a piece of wood in the alae of their noses (the wings of the nose), I was told that it was to make them look ugly, unattractive. That must have been a handicap, but whether true or not, women with such nose perforations would have been less likely to be stolen or kidnapped by marauding tribes than women with more beautiful noses. Nowadays younger women no longer follow that practice. —>—>

Urine, Butterflies and Moths

How to catch a purple emperor

What can urine be good for? Ask people and the answer would probably be “it’s the body’s waste; it’s no good for anything” (well, had you asked Morarji Desai he would have given you a surprisingly different answer!). Anyway, as a high school student, I used urine and formalin in an experiment that was designed to show how the urea in human piddle can be a basic component of plastics. I enjoyed that experiment and believe children today would also enjoy this bit of chemistry. Anyway I was reminded of that high school experiment in Trinidad, when I met a ”Lepidopterologist” (someone who loves collecting butterflies and moths), who explained to me that the best way to attract certain species was to soak a piece of cloth in human urine and hang it into a tree and wait for some winged “jewels” to arrive. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow wings

Reductions and Concentrations

Advantages of having less

One of the most frequent comments I have to scribble on the margin of my students’ essays, assignments and reports is “condense” or “shorten and compress”. It’s exactly what evolution has done (via the survival of the fittest) with certain organs and structures of the animal body. In a way it’s the opposite of what I had written in a different blog about duplications and repetitive structural elements (the million of identical nephrons in the kidney come to mind, the hundreds of identical legs in some millipedes ring a bell and even the dozens of identical teeth in the mouths of dolphins may be remembered). Therefore, how about the opposite? It’s actually easier to find examples for reductions of structural entities in animals and we can almost use examples from the same animal groups mentioned earlier in connection with duplications. —>—>