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Children stories Nature Series of Seven Seven wonders of nature

Seven Wonders of Camouflage

Seven wonders of Camouflage

I am back with another wonder of nature, this is camouflage or colour changing ability of some species of invertebrates and vertebrates. This is a unique characteristic or rather a weapon which is some time used as a defense and sometime to catch prey. These creatures so perfectly blend with the surrounding that its very hard to spot them.
So, please have a look and enjoy!
1. Mollusca
a. Mimic Octopus
Camouflage by Octopus – Seven wonders of Nature
Mimic octopus: As the name suggest this is an expert to mimic other creatures. Normally it has brown and white stripes or spots. This octopus can contour its body and change its colour and also mimic the likeness and movements of more than fifteen different species including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crab, sea shells, stingrays, jellyfish, sea anemones, and martis shrimps. Depending upon the predator it can decide which animal to impersonate, for example if it is attacked by a damselfish then octopus impersonate as a sea snake, (damselfish’s predator) by burying six of its arms and waving other two arms in opposite direction, and changing colour to black and yellow. Really a champion of disguise.
b. Cuttle Fish
Cuttlefishes are also known as chameleon of sea because of rapid changing ability.
2. Arthropoda
a. Golden Tortoise Beetle
Beetle camouflage
These beetles can change colour from golden to red. Instead of using pigment cells it changes its colour by altering the reflectivity of their shell, which is a remarkable feature of this tiny creature.
b. Golden rod crab spider
Depending on the flower on which it is hunting it can change its colour, but as it can change only in white and yellow so normally it hunts on white and yellow flowers like daisy and sunflower. Colour changing is induced by visual feedback.
3. Flounder fish
This is an ocean dwelling flat fish. They manage to blend so well with surroundings that it’s hard to locate them. A peculiar characteristic of this fish is that it has both the eyes on same side, which is an aid for the act of camouflage. A larval flounder has one eye on each side of the body, but as it grows one eye migrate to other side.
4. Amphibians
Peron’s tree frog can change its colour in less than an hour from grey, brown or even white. Due to its high pitched cackle it is also known as laughing tree frog.
5. Reptiles
Some Chameleons are expert in changing colour varying from pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, yellow and turquoise.
6. Birds
Ptarmigan
Ptarmigan, also known as rock ptarmigan exhibits seasonal camouflage, it changes it’s colour from brown to white. In winter it’s white with black tail , and brown in spring and summer. It is a gamebird in grouse family. These birds prefer to live in barren and higher elevation areas.
7. Mammals
Some mammals like Arctic fox, Arctic hare, Ermine exhibit seasonal camouflage, with the onset of winter their colour changes to white which remain for whole winter, after winter i.e. in spring and summer they have a different colour. This change help them in both ways, catching prey as well as protecting from predators.
a. Arctic fox
Arctic fox during spring/summer and winter

 

b.Arctic hare
Arctic Hare during spring/summer and winter

 

c.Ermine
Ermine in spring/summer and winter

 

d. Barren Ground Caribou

Barren Ground Caribou in spring/summer and winter

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Nature

Secret behind toucan beak

Toucan – bird with largest bill, its about one third of its body length. This over sized appendages have puzzled scientists from centuries. Charles Darwin says its to attract mate, other interpretations are fruit peeling, nest predation and visual warnings.
Now, team of researchers from Brock University, Canada, and Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil, have an answer……Toucan uses its enormous beak to stay cool. Researchers have used infrared cameras on toco toucan (Ramphastos toco), to show the bird dumping heat from its body into its bill, helping it to regulate its body temperature.
The scientists found that as the surroundings got warmer, the toucan’s bill would rapidly heat up, effectively acting as a radiator to draw heat away from the bird’s body, allowing it to stay cool. Conversely, in cooler temperatures, little heat would radiate from the bill, letting the bird conserve its warmth.
As the surroundings heat up, the toucans dump body heat into their bills. The effect was particularly evident at night: at sunset, the birds would, in a matter of minutes, pump out heat from their beaks, lowering their body temperature as they slept. The birds’ bills have a network of blood vessels that can increase or restrict the flow of blood.
By altering blood flow to the bill’s surface, toucans can conserve body heat when it is cold or cope with heat stress by increasing blood flow. Essentially, the large surface area of the bill, and the fact it is not insulated, means that the blood flowing through is able to release heat into the bill, thus cooling the bird. This blood-derived heat in the bill is then dissipated into the air. So it’s an effective radiator.
Other animals also use parts of their bodies to regulate temperature, for example, elephants and rabbits radiate heat from their ears to cool down. Birds do not sweat, so must cope with other mechanisms to deal with elevated temperatures.
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Nature Series of Seven Seven wonders of nature

Seven architectural wonders of nature

Nature is full of wonders but these architects of natural world are amazing. These creatures have not taken any training and still are masters. In true sense, their creations are the seven wonders of architecture of natural world.

1. SOCIABLE WEAVER BIRD
The sociable weaver build their nests on trees, which are largest in the world, A huge apartment is build when many pairs of birds work together. The dimension of largest sociable weaver nests is over 20 feet to over 10 feet with more than 100 individual nesting chambers. Some weigh several thousand kilograms and can get so heavy they knock down the supporting tree.
For building the nest, sociable weavers use different materials for different purposes. Large twigs form the roof of the nest, dry grasses create the separate chambers, and sharp straws protect the entry of tunnels from their enemies. Inner chambers are lined from top to bottom with soft fur, cotton, plant material and fluff.
2. TERMITES
Termites are amazing creatures, these .4 inch blind creatures can construct huge towers of several feet and weighing several tons. Termites uses soil, mud, chewed wood/cellulose, saliva, and feces to build homes for their colonies, and this can be of 6 meters.
3. SPIDER
Spider produces silken threads using their spinneret glands located at the tip of their abdomen. Each gland produces threads for special purpose like, a trailed safety line, sticky silk for catching prey and soft silk for packing it. Sometimes a group of spiders may build web together in the same area. It is common for a web to be 20 times the size of the spider building it. But world’s largest web was found in 2007, in park Lake Tawakoni in Texas, a huge web was found covering 180 meters of trees and bushes. Initially the web was white, but turned dark due to mosquitoes caught in it.
4. BEAVER
Beavers are nocturnal, semi aquatic rodents. Beavers are known for building dams, canals and lodges. They use their strong front teeth to cut trees and plants. In absence of a pond beaver construct a dam before building a lodge. First they place vertical poles and then fill between the vertical poles with a crisscross of horizontally placed branches. They fill in the gaps between the branches with a combination of weeds and mud until the dam holds back sufficient water to surround the lodge. In Canada the longest recorded beaver dam in the world spans 2800 feet, and has existed for over a decade.
5. ANTS
Ants are incredible builders that can carry many times their own weight. A species of Argentine ant introduced into Europe about 80 years ago has developed the largest super colony ever recorded. It stretches 6,000 kilometres – from northern Italy, through the south of France to the Atlantic coast of Spain – with billions of related ants occupying millions of nests. While ants from rival nests normally fight each other to the death, ants from the super colony have the ability to recognise each other and co-operate – even if they come from nests at opposite ends of the colony’s range. The Argentine species (Linepithema humile) probably came into Europe on imported plants. Another is in the US, known as the “Californian large”, extends over 900km (560 miles) along the coast of California and third, huge colony exists on the west coast of Japan.
6. CLADDISFLY
Claddisfly is a under water architect. It doesn’t construct something huge but, something very unique. The larval form of this fly construct a portable case or sac with silk threads and any other material available like sand, twigs, stones, shells to protect them and to provide natural camouflage. After the pupal stage they cut the sac with their mandibles and fly.
7. NAKED MOLE RAT
Naked mole rat are pinkish-gray, wrinkly skin, scant hair, and long buck teeth. This is the only known social mammal. Virtually they spend their entire life in the total darkness of underground burrows. They are truly social and live in large colonies, with 80 to 300 individuals. Working as a team they are extremely efficient excavators, a colony of 80 can dig an area of 20 football field in less than three months Their shape incisors are the best digging tools. Their teeth 2 upper one and two lower one are located outside the mouth, so that they don’t swallow unwanted dirt and the hairy lips are behind the teeth.
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Herbs

Important herbs – Milk thistle

Useful herbs – Milk Thistle

Dioscorides, a first century Greek physician, gave milk thistlethe name Silybum marianum. Silybum relates to a number of edible thistles and marianumhonors the symbolic associations to the Virgin Mary. This is one of the important herbs which nature has provided to us. This is one of the herbs, which is used widely in liver disorders. The liver-protective effects were known and written about in ancient times, leading to the active chemical, pharmacological, and safety research beginning in Germany in the 1950s. Clinical use for a variety of liver ailments, such as hepatitis, has also prospered throughout many parts of the world.

 

Useful herbs – Milk Thistle


The part of the plant used in modern day herbal medicine is the seeds. Good quality seeds are black and shiny. For many centuries extract of this herb is used as a liver tonic. They are taken internally to treat the following:
  • Liver and gall bladder disease.
  • Jaundice.
  • Hepatitis (liver inflammation).
  • Poisoning.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis.
  • The growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical, and prostate cancers.
  • Effects of a hangover.

 

Useful herbs – legend around Milk thistle

Legend has it that the white mottling of the leaves of milk thistle was caused by a drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk. The plant was traditionally used to stimulate milk production. Its scientific name is Silybum marianumwas a name given to some edible thistles in the first century by a Greek physician, and marianum is a reference to the Virgin Mary legend.

Originating in Kashmir, India milk thistle found its way to Europe during the Middle Ages. Milk thistle was cultivated in European gardens as a vegetable until the end of the 19th century. All parts of the plant were consumed.

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Herbs

Herbal plant – Aloe Vera (Herbs)

Aloe Vera – One of the important herbs provided by nature

Aloe vera is one of the most useful herbs which is helpful in various conditions.

History of Aloe Vera

The generations of past mention the healing methods of Aloe vera plants being handed down through the centuries by word of mouth.  We find that the use of Aloe vera appears throughout history with many testimonials of its medicinal values.  The earliest record of Aloe vera use comes from the Egyptians.  There are records of the Egyptians drawing pictures of Aloe vera plants on the walls of the temples. Many cultures such as the Egyptians would have even elevated the plant to a ‘god-like’ status. The healing properties of the Aloe vera were utilized for centuries earning the name “Plant of Immortality”.
Aloe vera – one of important herbs
Aloe vera grows well under the sun with well drained dry soil. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing and reducing the risk of infections for :
– wounds
– cuts
– burns
– eczema
– reducing inflammation
– Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera is also taken internally in the treatment of :
– chronic constipation
– poor appetite
– digestive problems
Aloe vera is used in natural and processed form both. In Africa today, people still pack whole Aloe leaves around their wounds, and in South America, mothers coat the arms and legs of children to keep biting insects away. In India, aloe vera juice is sold by various manufacturers targeting a large user group.

Legends around Aloe Vera – one of the useful herbs

There are many legends about Aloe. It is said that Aristotle advised Alexander the Great to conquer the Island of Socotra to secure its Aloe harvest for his troops medical needs. Another legend tells us Queen Cleopatra used Aloe to keep her skin soft and beautiful. We don’t know if the story is true, of course, but recent scientific findings confirm this.