Tag Archives: Biological Marvel

A Glance into the Human Brain

A Glance into the Human Brain – Structure and Functions of the Human Brain (Human Brain’s Anatomy and Physiology) – A Voyage Into the Human Brain!

This article describes the structure of human brain (anatomy of human brain) and functions of human brain (physiology of human brain), which is the most complex and mysterious organ of the human body. This article is expected to cater the needs of a variety of audiences including the students, teachers, healthcare professionals, and the laymen. The article has been written in an easy-to-understand language and richly annotated with definitions of difficult medical terms including etymologies.

The human brain is the most sophisticated organ of the human body, and can aptly be called as a biological marvel. The brain and the spinal cord constitute the central nervous system (CNS). The brain plays the role of the control tower or control center of the human body, and relies on a vast network of nerves (bundles of fibers of nervous tissue carrying impulses) spread throughout the body. Nerves can be compared to the electrical wiring as they carry electrical impulses.

Noteworthy Facts about the Human Brain!

  • The brain of human beings resembles a small cauliflower in its size and appearance.
  • Human brain is comprised of about 100 billion neurons or nerve cells.
  • The weight of an adult human brain is about 1300 g (about 3 pounds), whereas the weight of a newborn’s brain lies in the range of 350 – 400 g.
  • Although the brain of a human being accounts for only 2 % of the total body weight, it utilizes 20 % of the of the resting total body oxygen consumption.
  • Human brain contains 77 to 78 % water, 10 to 12 % lipids, 8 % proteins, 2 % soluble organic substances, 1 % carbohydrates, and 1 % inorganic salts.
  • The cerebral cortex forms 77% by volume of the human brain.
  • Cerebrum is the largest part of the human brain, whereas Cerebellum is the second largest.
  • Left side of the brain (left cerebral hemisphere) controls the right side of the body, whereas the right side of the brain (right cerebral hemisphere) controls the left side of the human body.

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Seahorses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Seahorses are magnificent fishes that exhibit the phenomenon of male pregnancy. Pregnancy in males is unique to seahorses in the entire animal kingdom, thus, making them a true biological marvel. This exclusive behavior was discussed in detail in my research article titled “Seahorse – Male Endurance – Roles Swapped!!” Here, in this new research paper / article, I shall explore the use of seahorses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Seahorses are globally exploited for use as aquarium fishes, curios (articles or objects of curiosity), medicines, and even foods. Use of Seahorses in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was first mentioned in the book named “Bencao Shiyi” (Supplement to Materia Medica), written by Chen Cangqi around 720 A.D.

Seahorses are used in the treatment of a wide range of health problems under the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is a complementary and alternative system of medicine (CAM). You can refer to my article – “The Basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)” to learn the fundamentals of TCM. Seahorses are employed in the treatment of sexual weakness, reduced sexual desire or drive (reduced libido; libido means sexual desire or sex drive), and are considered as broad-spectrum or general tonics. The practitioners of TCM claim that seahorses strengthen “kidneys” and improve “nerves”, which in the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine points to general morale, well-being, and vigor. “kidneys” also imply sexual function in the context of TCM. Seahorses are categorized under sweet, salty, and warm medicines. They are usually not prescribed alone but in combo-preparations (formulations containing multiple ingredients) containing matter from other animals and plants.

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Alfred Russell Wallace - adidarwinian

A Man Who Played a Pivotal Role in Solving the Mystery of Life

A Man Who Played a Pivotal Role in Solving the Mystery of Life

Alfred Russell Wallace - adidarwinianAlfred Russel Wallace(1823 – 1913) is widely acknowledged to be the co-discoverer of “The Theory of Natural Selection” with Charles Darwin in 1858. The theory of Natural Selection is often called the “The Darwin-Wallace Theory”, for which the highest honors were bestowed on Wallace by the scientific community of that time. The honors were made by the Linnean Society of London, the Royal Society of London, and the British monarch (the Order of Merit).

In the late 19th and the early decades of the 20th century, the theory of Natural Selection, as a means of the evolutionary change, lost its impetus. It was only in the mid-twentieth century that the theory of Natural Selection got revived and was accepted as the mechanism of the evolutionary change.

At the young age of 25, Wallace, along with Henry Walter Bates (an English Naturalist) decided to travel to Brazil to collect specimens of insects, birds, and other animals. On 26 April 1848, they left for Pará (Belém) from Liverpool. For A. R. Wallace, the primary aim of this expedition was two-folded, viz. to seek the evidence for evolution and to make an attempt to discover its mechanism. A few months after the beginning of the expedition, Wallace and Bates split up in order to collect specimens in different areas. Wallace focused in the middle Amazon and Rio Negro; he traveled up the Rio Negro River more than anyone else had done before. Wallace drew a map of the Rio Negro, which was published by the Royal Geographical Society of London and which became the standard map for many years.

In 1852, due to his poor health, Wallace decided to return to Britain. However, during the voyage, his ship caught fire and sank; destroying his precious notes, drawings, and much of the collections. After days of drifting in the open sea, Wallace managed to reach England. In 1854, Wallace left Britain for Malay Archipelago (group of islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans including areas like East Malaysia, islands of Indonesia, etc.). After spending nearly eight big years in the region and undertaking sixty or seventy separate journeys, he had covered a distance of around 14,000 miles. He visited every important island in the Archipelago, and collected about 7500 shells, 8050 bird skins, 110,000 insects, and 410 mammal plus reptile specimens. Amongst these many species were entirely new to biologists and naturalists of that time.

Some of Wallace’s popular discoveries include –

Ornithoptera croesus – Wallace’s Golden Birdwing Butterfly (Bacan Island)

Semioptera wallacei – Wallace’s Standard-Wing Bird of Paradise (Bacan Island)

Trogonoptera brookiana – Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing Butterfly (Borneo)

Alfred Russel Wallace’s “The Malay Archipelago”,
which is the most acknowledged of all the travel writings on the amazing regions of Malay Archipelago (such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and others), describes Wallace’s work and experiences in the most scientific yet fascinating manner. This book stands at a very high position with respect to the scientific books of the nineteenth century.“The Malay Archipelago” can truly be regarded as a “Biological Marvel” as its scientific status is of “The Landmark Importance in Biology”. In this book, Wallace gave a spectacular account of the mysterious Birds of Paradise along with other indispensable information. 

Apart from Wallace’s contributions to the theory of Natural Selection, which solved the mystery of life, he also made many other significant contributions. These contributions covered fields as diverse as glaciology, anthropology, land reform, ethnography, astrobiology, and epidemiology. His pioneering work in the field of evolutionary biogeography, the study of how plants and animals are distributed, gave him the honor of being recognized as “The Father of Evolutionary Biogeography”. Alfred Russel Wallace’s dedicated explorations into the tropical regions are, even at this moment of time, of unmatchable worth.

Related Books To Read:

Evolution, Second Edition at Amazon.com

The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition at Amazon.com

On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition at Amazon.com

Photosynthetic Sea Slug - Elysia chlorotica - adidarwinian

A Biological Marvel Unleashed

A Biological Marvel Unleashed

A Biological Marvel - Photosynthetic Sea Slug - adidarwinian
A Biological Marvel – Photosynthetic Sea Slug

Note the bright green hue in the photograph.

This Sea Slug is a Biological Marvel — It is both an Animal and a Plant!!

“Elysia chlorotica can make energy containing molecules without having to eat anything.”

“This is the first time that multicellular animals have been able to produce chlorophyll“.

Elysia chlorotica is not an ordinary sea slug (a mollusc). Elysia chlorotica is a photosynthetic sea animal. Like plants, it is capable of converting sunlight into energy.

The photosynthetic ability of Elysia chlorotica is the result of incorporation of algal (Vaucheria litorea) chloroplasts (organelles found in plant cells in which photosynthesis occurs) and chlorophyll producing genes into its molluscan cells. Vaucheria litorea belongs to the yellow-green algae of the class  Xanthophyceae.

These slugs initially got the chlorophyll producing genes from the algae that they had eaten. Present generations of slugs have received these genes from their parent generations, and they are passing them to their daughter generations.

Elysia chlorotica gets its chlorophyll-making genes through genetic inheritance, but still is unable to carry out photosynthesis until it consumes adequate quantity of algae so as to receive necessary chloroplasts, which it is unable to produce by itself.

Photosynthetic Sea Slug - Elysia chlorotica - adidarwinian