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Last Update: Saturday, Aug 28, 2021 15:05 [IST]

Tales from Nature 8

Difference between plants and animals
Plants can manufacture their own food using chlorophyll , and sunlight by the process of photosynthesis. Animals are dependent directly or indirectly upon plants for their food as they cannot manufacture their own food. Animals exhibit movement, while plants exhibit locomotion. Plants contain chlorophyll, a four ring compound with a central magnesium ion. Animals have haemoglobin, a similar four ring structure but with a central iron atom. Chlorophyll is associated with food manufacturing in plants. Haemoglobin is associated with oxygen transport to animal cells. Plant cells have cell wall in addition to cell membrane and also contain plastids.
Magnesium is the central iron of the chlorophyl molecule that holds the entire molecule  together. Without magnesium chlorophyl will not be able to exist as a molecule and hence cannot take part in photosynthesis, the solar powered food manufacturing process in plants. It is the powerhouse of chlorophyll molecule and hence in photosynthesis. Cell walls are absent in animal cells and they have cell membrane only; and they do not have any plastids.
Plant cells contain a very large central vacuole, animals cells have smaller vacuoles. Centrosomes and centrioles are present in animal cells; but absent in plant cells. Animal cells are irregular or roundish in shape; while plant cells are mostly rectangular in shape. Plant cells are totipotent and exhibit polyploidy. These characters are absent in animals. Plants also have multiple genomes not common in animals. Plants take carbon dioxide and release oxygen, while animals take oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Plant metabolism generated a large number of secondary metabolites rich in medical properties which is absent in animals. Plants can grow continuously throughout their life cycle; while in animal growth is finite.
Difference between crocodiles and alligators
Crocodiles are reptiles spread across the continent of Africa, Asia and Australia; while alligators are restricted to parts of North America and China. Both are reptiles belonging to the same group; but are distinctly separate species. Saltwater crocodiles are massive in size compared to that of alligators. The snout of crocodile is pointed while that in alligators are rounded. Furthermore, when crocodiles close their mouth one can see the interlocking teeth not visible in case of alligators. Crocodiles are way more aggressive and dangerous compared to the alligators.
Dangers of exotic species
Species that are foreign or alien to a natural ecosystem and introduced purposely or accidentally by anthropogenic/natural factors. Exotic species are often detrimental to the native ecosystem and they can seriously endanger local biodiversity by either predators g of breeding with native species contaminating pure gene pools. Often they turn into pest in the new environment and start replacing native species or removing them from the natural ecosystem.
For example, pollinator sanctuaries or bee gardens are becoming increasingly popular in all corners of the globe. Such pollinator sanctuaries usually use a mix of various annual/biennial/ perennial plants such as local wild flowers, crop plants and ornamental plants. But some native flowers when moved from their natural habitats to prairies and other ecosystems has similarly outgrown local crops and had turned into weeds. Farmers are so scared of native flowers turning into weed and competing with crops that Pollinator Sanctuary solely composed of native and wildflowers is never going to be commercially successful as well as acceptable. Unless farmers participate whole heartedly in bee conservation, the small patches of plants will never transform into major bee conservation programs across North America. Hence, we need to be extremely cautious and assumptions.l
Species abundant in the local ecosystems and are both rated by commercial bee keepers as well as make hives in the wild. Quite common in the urban environment and has coped well with pollution. Honey quality moderate to excellent depending on availability of adequate foraging plants. Mostly indoor maintained during monsoon; else active all year. Found across the Indian subcontinent and a dominant species introduced from Europe. They do attack people occasionally, but not aggressive in nature. Deaths from stinging not well known or well documented.
Ignorance is bliss and hampering conservation
We celebrate World Snake Day every year on July 16th with great pomp and grandeur. But our societal attitude towards snakes continue to be so negative and disturbingly violent that several unfortunate species have been pushed towards the verge of extinction. We fail to comprehend and appreciate the great ecological roles played by different snake species by keeping the rodent population under control. Our serious lack of education and awareness is therefore hampering conservation of snakes. Superstition, fear psychosis, myths and faith on traditional unscientific methods of treatment fir snake bites, mass hysteria about snakes are all important factors that are detrimental to our efforts for successful snake conservation.
Bees worldwide are showing a significant decline due to a number of anthropogenic factors. Bees are important natural pollinators and essential for the survival of global agriculture, forestry and apiculture industries. We are all aware of this; but, we are not doing anything efficient or effective to help towards the bee conservation process. Know if our country would have continued protecting these and variable habitats with proper zeal and political wheel new initiative to be conception that could have become a global model. But unfortunately we only discuss and criticize others without taking part in the process; and negatively alter the system of administration thereby disturbing or interfering with the process of successful conservation practices. Our ignorance therefore has been a constant hurdle that has been preventing wider conservation measures.
How does body fur or body hair or body coat helps a mammal ?
1. Protection against external changes to environment.
2. Physiological thermo-regulation.
3. Providing warmth and comfort to new borns and juveniles under going nursing
4. Camouflage to avoid predators in the wild M
5. Attracting mates
6. Using fallen hairs as nesting materials
7. Protection against rain or snow
8. An adoptive structure to adjust to changes in its immediate environment and ecosystem.
9. A natural fusion against attack from unwanted external parasites.
10. The coat serves as a unique evolutionary adaptive character helping mammals to survive under adverse conditions.
Colder external temperature also slowly starts impacting human body temperature due to a condition called hypothermia. It lowers body temperature and blood circulation making people look paler. You need to drink something warm or high calorie or energy drink or food to help fuel up the body temperature. Under severe cold climatic situation in case of exposed body death can occur. It is therefore important to dress appropriately in layers in facing critically cold external environment as humans do not have hairs to protect them from external environment.
The standard good parameters for health is not related to weight any more. It is BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. It is suggested makes should have waist circumference less than 40 inches and women should have less than 36 inches for good optimal health maintenances, watch your waste line is the new buzz in the health and wellness industry. The important difference to note between animals and humans is that in several species of wild animals, do you need to fatten up or store body fat to overcome a period of hibernation, food shortages or any unprecedented environmental condition. However, high fat storage in humans lead to several metabolism disruptive diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and uric acid, heart related ailments to mention only a handful.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi