New snake species discovery in India


This video says about itself:

The Incredible Indian Snake Girl

Deadly cobra snakes are the best pals of this eight-year-old Indian girl even after being bitten by them a couple of times. Kajol Khan who wants to become a snake catcher like her father eats, sleeps and plays with six cobras all day long. She has even stopped going to school out of her love for the snakes. Kajol said: “I didn’t like the company of humans in the school so stopped going there five years ago.” See how little girl Kajol plays with the deadly cobra snakes, trains the snakes and handles the snakes.

Now, from venomous to non-venomous snakes.

Wallaceophis gujaratenesis. Photo by Zeeshan Mirza

From PLOS ONE:

A New Miocene-Divergent Lineage of Old World Racer Snake from India

March 2, 2016

Abstract

A distinctive early Miocene-divergent lineage of Old world racer snakes is described as a new genus and species based on three specimens collected from the western Indian state of Gujarat. Wallaceophis gen. et. gujaratenesis sp. nov. is a member of a clade of old world racers.

The monotypic genus represents a distinct lineage among old world racers is recovered as a sister taxa to Lytorhynchus based on ~3047bp of combined nuclear (cmos) and mitochondrial molecular data (cytb, ND4, 12s, 16s). The snake is distinct morphologically in having a unique dorsal scale reduction formula not reported from any known colubrid snake genus. Uncorrected pairwise sequence divergence for nuclear gene cmos between Wallaceophis gen. et. gujaratenesis sp. nov. other members of the clade containing old world racers and whip snakes is 21–36%.

From IANS news in India:

Mumbai, March 3: A team of young Indian researchers and naturalists have recently discovered a new snake genus and species in Gujarat, it was announced here on Thursday.

The snake genus has been named Wallaceophis in honour of the legendary 19th century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), considered the father of biogeography, while the snake species has been named gujaratenisis to commemorate the western Indian state where it was discovered.

New catfish species discovered in India


This video says about itself:

30 September 2013

Glass catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis)

Habitat: Asia
Temperature: 23-27°C
pH: 6,5-7,5
Length: 8 cm

From PLOS one:

Amblyceps waikhomi, a New Species of Catfish (Siluriformes: Amblycipitidae) from the Brahmaputra Drainage of Arunachal Pradesh, India

Achom Darshan, Akash Kachari, Rashmi Dutta, Arijit Ganguly, Debangshu Narayan Das

Published: February 3, 2016

Abstract

Amblyceps waikhomi sp. nov. is described from the Nongkon stream which drains into the Noa Dehing River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra River, in Arunachal Pradesh, India. The new species can be distinguished from congeners (except A. torrentis) in having a deeper body depth at anus.

It further differs from congeners (except A. mangois and A. serratum) in having fewer vertebrae, from A. mangois in lacking (vs. having) strongly-developed projections on the proximal lepidotrichia of the median caudal-fin rays, and in having a longer, wider, and deeper head; and from A. serratum in having a posteriorly smooth (vs. with 4–5 serrations) pectoral spine, and unequal jaw length (lower jaw longer and weakly-projecting anteriorly vs. equal upper and lower jaws). It additionally differs from A. murraystuarti, A. torrentis, A. apangi, A. laticeps, and A. cerinum in having a deeply forked (vs. emarginate or truncate) caudal fin. This species is the seventh amblycipitid species known to occur in the Ganga-Brahmaputra River system.

Raptor conservation in India


This video is about an Amur falcon. One of the raptor species migrating through India.

From BirdLife:

Indian Government signs raptor conservation agreement

By Ed Parnell, Thu, 21/01/2016 – 11:28

India has become the 54th country to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU), an important international agreement to protect migratory birds of prey.

Approval to sign the Raptors MOU was given by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Cabinet meeting held on 30 December 2015. Although legally non-binding, the Raptors MOU –which was concluded under the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) – is an important instrument for the conservation of birds of prey.

“It gives us immense pleasure to congratulate the Prime Minister and Government for making India the 54th signatory to the Raptors MOU. This agreement is a big step forward for the monitoring, research and conservation of migratory species of raptors. We will be honoured if we can assist the Government in meeting India’s obligations under the treaty,” said Deepak Apte, Director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India).

Established in 1883, BNHS is among the oldest conservation organisations in the world, and over the course of its long history has carried out pioneering research and conservation on many birds of prey including South Asia’s critically endangered vultures, and other migratory raptors such as Amur Falcon Falco amurensis.

Although the migratory status of Asia’s vultures is in most cases ambiguous, they are in the process of being included in the Raptors MOU, which will be an important instrument in the fight to save them.

In November 2012, with significant input from BirdLife, the CMS adopted a resolution (Resolution 10.10) which, for the first time, essentially set out a global agenda for conservation along flyways – well-travelled routes used by birds during their migration, which often span continents and oceans. BirdLife also ensured effective resolutions were agreed on a number of key issues affecting raptors including agrochemicals, power lines and renewable energy. BirdLife provided much of the scientific information underpinning the Raptors MOU, which develops guidelines for national strategies for bird of prey conservation, and is working especially closely with the BirdLife’s Migratory Soaring Birds Project.

Tibetan ground-tits, new study


This video says about itself:

Groundpecker [=ground tit] (Pseudopodoces humilis) Juveniles’ Behavior

Date: 17 August 2012

Location: Polokangka La, Ladakh, India

From Animal Behaviour:

Cuckolded male ground tits increase parental care for the brood

Highlights

Polyandrous females benefit from reduced workload in brood provisioning.

• Polyandrous females produced young with larger extrapair partners.

• Cuckolded males increase parental care for the brood with mixed paternity.

• Polyandrous females’ paternity allocation determines cuckolded males’ responses.

Extrapair copulations (EPCs) occur widely in socially monogamous birds. How cuckolded males respond to the infidelity of their social mates is still problematic. We addressed this question in the ground tit, Pseudopodoces humilis, in which EPCs occur frequently and successful reproduction relies on biparental care. In solitarily breeding pairs, we calculated the feeding rate of social pairs at polyandrous and monogamous females’ nests. Compared with that at monogamous nests, cuckolded males increased their feeding rate whereas polyandrous females reduced theirs.

Polyandrous females had larger extrapair partners, although their extrapair young were neither heavier nor had higher heterozygosity than their within-pair young. Extrapair males never provided paternal care for the mixed brood and polyandrous females had no opportunity to forage on the territory of extrapair males. Therefore, the energetic benefit polyandrous females obtained was due to the increased parental care of their social mates. Even losing some share, cuckolded males still gained most of the paternity within the mixed brood. By increasing parental care for the current brood, they could ensure the survival of their own offspring.

Thus, we suggest that females place their social male in a cruel bind by creating a larger brood containing some unrelated young: if the social male does not step up provisioning to meet the demands of the larger brood, overcrowding may reduce the survival of his offspring. Polyandrous females maintain the fitness incentive for their social males to provide parental care by limiting the paternity of extrapair males to a minority of the brood.

Gandhi’s murderer getting statue, jail for eating beef in theocratic India?


This video from India says about itself:

Romila Thapar on the Colonial Scholarship Behind Hindu Rastra

Hindu Rastra (or Rashtra) is the idea of a fanatical tendency of some Hindu religious people that India should become a theocratic ultra-orthodox Hindu state, with inequality for Muslims, Christians, atheists, Jews, liberal and/or lower caste and non-caste Hindus and others.

There are some parallels with the ‘Islamic State’ advocated by ISIS terrorists; and with fanatical tendencies within Christianity, Judaism, and other religions.

27 October 2015

Hindu Rastra is Drawn from the Scholarship of Colonial Historians”

Romila Thapar, at the launch of the two websites of the Indian Writers’ Forum Trust, speaks on the recent attempts at the rewriting of history to suit the purposes of a Hindu India. The proponents of this theory claim that history must not only be rewritten, but corrected – a more dangerous proposition than rewriting.

She does not find the approach – in spite of its absurdity -, the working of some fantasy, but a very systematic approach to suit history for the argument of a Hindu state. Most of these claims are based on the work of colonial scholarship such as the historians James Mill, Max Mueller, and [Theosophist US American] Colonel Olcott.

The irony of the fact remains that those who oppose the secular history as Western must fall back on colonial scholarship of Indian history done by – to borrow the vocabulary of the Hindu Right – Westerners. “It is colonial scholarship which is at the foundation of this new so-called indigenous history”, says Thapar. She concludes by saying that there may be various versions of history, but pleads for a space where these versions can be debated and discussed in public or in institutions. What must be opposed is the reduction of all knowledge to a single narrative and the grounding of that knowledge on a single ideology.

Today, Dutch Internet site De Correspondent publishes an article by correspondent Peter Speetjens in India. He interviewed Ms Romila Thapar.

Translation of some of it:

Meanwhile in India: A Muslim who eats a cow can get up to five years in prison

There is a cultural revolution going on in India. Minorities are converted, books banned, intellectuals gagged.

Some people even advocate to have a statue for Nathuram Godse, the man who on January 30, 1948 shot dead Mahatma Gandhi. Godse: the staunch Hindu nationalist who took up arms. Gandhi, the father of secular India, with a firm belief in nonviolence.

Romila Thapar, now professor emeritus, was at the time of the murder a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Godse’s hometown Pune.

Although she has been retired for years, she still regularly writes. Last year, for instance, her twentieth and latest book.

The developments in her country cause her great concern.

“Gandhi’s death was like a knockout punch,” says the 83-year-old historian in her apartment in South Delhi, filled with books, art and antiques. “There was, after India’s independence, so much hope in the country. Until that happened … Suddenly we saw the presence of an intense ugliness, of which we never we were previously aware. ”

She talks about the murder as if it occurred yesterday. “We were scared. Suppose that the killer was a Muslim, it would have led to massive retaliation. But even when it became known that the culprit was a Hindu, the situation remained tense. We could not understand. Gandhi was such a great man. Who could do that? And why? How could Gandhi’s death be a solution for anything?”…

Since a year the Hindu Mahasabha organisation is calling for a statue for Godse. The movement even wants to make a film about his life.

“It is a frightening development,” says the elegantly black-clad Thapar. “We are talking about the rehabilitation of a convicted murderer”. …

And it does not stop with a posthumous tribute to an ancient Hindu nationalist hero. Since last May, the political wing of Godse’s movement has an absolute majority in the Indian parliament. …

Last 28 September, a mob of about a hundred Hindus stormed the house of Mohammed Akhlaq in Bisara village, dragged him outside and clubbed him dead, after a local priest had – wrongly – proclaimed through a loudspeaker that the 50-year-old Muslim had supposedly butchered a calf. His son ended up badly injured in hospital.

Prime Minister Modi did not consider it necessary to condemn the act, even though eight of the eleven arrested suspects have links with his Hindu nationalist BJP party.

The cow is sacred to Hindus and in most Indian states there is a slaughter ban. The western state of Maharashtra did not think that went far enough and in March also banned the slaughter of bulls and oxen. For eating ‘bad meat’ there is now a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. Although not all Hindus are strictly vegetarian, such bans hit especially the 200 million Indian Muslims and Christians.

This 15 October 2015 video from India is called Romila Thapar: In The Wake of the Beef Controversy.

From the (non-theocratic) daily The Hindu:

October 10, 2015 05:49 IST

‘BJP, RSS trying to declare India Hindu rashtra’

“The Constitution has taken care that people of all religions live in the country and so the country has not been accorded the status of Hindu rashtra…if BJP and RSS turn it into a Hindu rashtra, I want to tell Dalits and adivasis that their interests will not be safe,” Ms. Mayawati stressed.

National birds of various countries


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

21 January 2010

Last night the worst drought in 20+ years here on Purerua Peninsula was broken with a 36mm rainfall. This afternoon, one of our local kiwis came out in broad daylight. We think it had been getting hungry because the ground was too hard and dry to penetrate during the drought, but with the softer soil today, the bird came out to catch up on feeding.

Kiwis are the national birds of New Zealand.

This week, the black-tailed godwit won in the Dutch national bird election.

Dutch Vroege Vogels TV then went to The Hague, where the foreign embassies are, to ask the ambassadors of New Zealand, Israel, India and the USA about their national birds. The interviews are on this video.

The national bird of India is the peacock.

This video is called Pavo cristatus – Indian blue peacock calling.

The peacock is the symbol of the gods Indra and Vishnu in Hindu religion. Killing a peacock used to be punished with the death penalty.

This is a hoopoe video from the Czech republic.

In May 2008, the hoopoe was voted national bird of Israel. 155,000 people participated in the election.

This video from North Dakota in the USA is called Bald Eagles (Accipitridae: Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Nest-building.

In 1782, the United States Congress voted to have the bald eagle as national bird; though Benjamin Franklin would have preferred the turkey.

Birds have been honored, revered and worshipped in many different cultures throughout human history, and birds as gods or god-like figures is just one of the many cultural connections humans and birds share: here.