WONDERS OF NATURE
In the plant kingdom the propagation and survival of the species is mainly achieved through the production of seeds, their packaging, dispersal and germination. Here we will look at the wonderful ways in which nature packs its products.
This fruit is one of the famous trios in the Indian culture along with the banana and mango commonly referred in Tamil as ‘mukkani’. The fruit has a pungent odour but a wonderful taste. The edible fruit encapsulates the seed of the plant. The most amazing thing is if the dispersion of seed is the main intention than why is it packed so elaborately that human beings need lot of skill and instrument and labour to reach to the fruit. May be the animals can get to it much easily. It is said the Bears have a strong liking for the fruit. The whole fruit is quite big and contains within itself a large number of individual fruits called ‘sulai’. The outer most surface is quite daunting in appearance with thick skin and spikes. Below the outer skin are thick strands between which the fruits are contained. The fruit itself is covered by a thin wafer like sheet. And the whole fruit gives out a very sticky resin like fluid once it is cut. It appears that because the fruit is so tasty the packing is so elaborate. But do animals also have taste preferences?
This is another wonderful fruit. Here again the packing is amazing. The individual red coloured seeds are contained in the fruit whose outer layer is thin but hard. The seeds are wonderfully contained in a sort of cubicles separated by vey thin wafer like sheets. Why is there a need for separating the seeds into separate cubicles by means of these thin and wonderful membranes?
Though this is not a fruit the manner in which it is packed is stunning. The outer are layers and layers of thin sheets which cover the seeds. Then there are the beautiful strands of silken hairs which cushion the seeds. The seeds themselves are embedded in a hard core material and beautifully arranged in straight lines and rows. What is curious about this is that the seeds in their raw state are not tasty. Humans either roast or bake the corn and then eat with added spices. Animals, as they have to eat everything raw, may not mind the lack of taste. The question is why then this elaborate and delicate packing?
Though this is not a fruit in the real sense its packaging is also unique. The nut in its outer most layer has a tough fibrous shell hard to remove by bare hands particularly when it is very dry. Next there is another tough and hard shell, which encloses the tasty pulp. The most amazing thing is the clear watery liquid with its cooling and lovely taste inside all these protective packaging. The propagation of the tree takes place when the whole fruit is buried in soil or floats in the water in the coastal areas. Though monkeys vandalise the trees they may not be in a position to tear open the fibrous outer layer with their bare hands to reach the inner pulp. Before the Humans learnt to pluck the fruits from the tall trees and developed instruments to reach to the pulp which other animals were eating this?
Ants are commonly found in nature and a part of human habitation inside and outside their houses. A vide variety of ants exists. Ants have been a matter of intense research and studies. They are known for their busy life. There is a common saying – be as active (surusuruppa) as an ant.
The smallest ant seen in the house also has a nasty smell. They are so tiny that however tightly closed the container is they still have the knack to get into it. It is so very difficult to get rid of them except by spraying HIT directly on them. They seem to be immune to all other methods.
The next slightly bigger ant comes in two colours – red and black. The red ones are sharp biters and cause pain and swelling at the site where one is bitten. They also have the capacity to enter into tightly closed containers. In contrast the black small ants do not bite but give a tingling sensation when they crawl on our body. It seems they are the only human friendly ants.
The next bigger ants are much bigger than the above and also come in red and black colours but both of them bite causing severe pain and swelling.
The curious thing one observes about ants is that they enter into the containers with alacrity and mix with the food articles stored in them. But if you were to put some biscuit crumbs or even any sweet item on your compound wall or window sill the ants tend to ignore them and even go around them. They seem to be not interested in things freely available. Probably the reason why they want to get into containers is for their safety and a place to stay and eating the contents may be secondary.
Honey bees is one of the insects / lies that has been extensively researched for their unique qualities. They live in communities and are subservient to the ‘Queen Bee’. They have the ability to build store house and store the honey collected by them from the flowers.
The difference between a honey bee and other insects/flies is that :
All insects / flies (like Butter flies) suck the nectar from the flowers and consume them immediately. In the process of their flying from one flower to another they help in the pollination and spread of plant species.
The honey bee in contrast, though doing the same as other insects do, are also in the habit of storing the nectar in honey combs after due processing. Do they consume the honey later on? Why do they not consume the nectar then and there like other insects? In most of the cases the honey stored is consumed by other animals like bears and also by humans.