Thursday, 29 September 2011

The 12 New Night Frogs

I had written a story about Biju’s night frog discovery. I still have some of the photographs, so here goes

Spinular Night Frog
SPINULAR NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus acanthodermis

Nyctibatrachus acanthodermis

The species name is derived from two Greek words – ‘acanthos’, meaning spine or thorn, and ‘dermis’ meaning skin – referring to the spiny skin of this species.

Daniel’s Night Frog
DANIEL'S NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus danieli

Nyctibatrachus danieli

This species is named after J.C. Daniel of the BNHS, in great appreciation of his contribution to Indian wildlife research.

Deven’s Night Frog
DEVEN'S NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus deveni

Nyctibatrachus deveni

The species is named after Deven Brian Sheth, a young nature lover in honour of his parents Mr Brian Niranjan Sheth (of Indian origin) and Mrs Adria Marie Sheth, for their contribution to global conservation of Indian amphibians.

Gavi Night Frog
GAVI NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus gavi

Nyctibatrachus gavi

The species is named after Gavi, where the specimen was collected.

Wayanad Night Frog
WAYANAD NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus grandis

Nyctibatrachus grandis

The species epithet grandis (Latin word) is an adjective meaning large, referring to the largest adult size reported in Nyctibatrachus.

Indraneils Night Frog
INDRANEIL'S NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus indraneili

Nyctibatrachus indraneili

This species is named after Indraneil Das, to honour his contribution to herpetological research in south and south-east Asia.

Jog’s Night Frog
JOG'S NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus jog

Nyctibatrachus jog

The species is named after Jog Falls, where the type series was collected.

Periyari Night Frog
PERIYAR NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus periyari

Nyctibatrachus periyar

The species is named after Periyar Tiger Reserve, where the type series was collected.

Pillai’s Night Frog
PILLAI'S NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus pillaii

Nyctibatrachus pillaii

This species is named after R.S. Pillai of the ZSI, in appreciation for his contribution to Indian amphibian systematics.

Meowing Night Frog MEOWING NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus poocha

Nyctibatrachus poocha

The species epithet poocha (Malayalam word, the major language of Kerala state) means domestic cat, referring to the advertisement call which is reminiscent of the call of a cat.

Shiradi Night Frog
SHIRADI NIGHT FROG- Nyctibatrachus shiradi

Nyctibatrachus shiradi

The species name shiradi is derived from Shiradi Ghat

VUB Night Frog
VUB NIGHT FROG- Nycyibatrachus vrijeuni

Nyctibatrachus vrijeuni

The species is named after the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where S.D. Biju, Ines Van Bocxlaer and Franky Bossuyt completed their PhDs.

Monday, 26 September 2011

That Cigarette

I’m not supposed to smoke anymore. Oh, yes, I know. I was never ever supposed to smoke. Smoking causes cancer, arterosclerosis, thrombosis. emphysema, Crohn’s disease, bad teeth and impotence.

But I , like so many of my fellow lovers of the common smoke, my fellow ten o’clockers,  have been able to ignore all those irritating warnings on pasteboard packets. After a point you’re able to switch off the lecturing of family members who may have never tasted that lovely sweet bitterness of a lungful of tobacco on top of a heavy thayir saadham.

I think I blame Biggles.  Adults in Enid Blyton books smoked pipes and cigarettes, but as adults in Enid Blyton books had lower IQs than Buster or Timmy or Loony or whatever the team pet was, their smoking never was very attractive. Biggles, Biggles was a different matter. A seventeen year old who would fly out across enemy lines in his Camel shooting down a brace of Boche and escape Richthofen for a bet? When he lit up, it was awesome. And underage!

The screw up is that feeling of something missing from your day.  That taste. The smell between index and middle.  The blissful feeling as you take your place on the morning throne – with newspaper in the other hand.

I was in the hospital ward with about sixty other angiogrammees. My loins had been shaved and several meters of wire had travelled up my femoral artery to take a dekko around my heart.  As I lay recovering, one of the doctors bandaged my legpits.  “Being a doctor is the worst thing in the world”, he said. My feeling at that point was that being a patient was the worst thing in the world, but I said nothing. “You see so many people come here with really bad heart disease because of those bloody cigarette companies. The game is rigged. The Government needs the money. The Cigarette companies need profits. And we end up spending more in healthcare than we  make in excise.” It’s a line he has used many times, said without vehemence. One of his patients had died yesterday.  He wasn’t happy about it.

It was unlikely that she was a smoker though.

Or maybe it was Sherlock Holmes who glammed the tobacco on? Come on, Watson was a Doctor. Who smoked “Ship’s”.  And Holmes smoked toe jam.  And Watson bhashaned him only about ruptured nasal septa and other 7% solution stuff.

Or was it the Foundation crew? Salvor Hardin with his Vegan (a book from the time the word meant “from the planet Vega” and not holier than though cultists doing what millions of folks considered a way of life for centuries) -  cigars in Jara Ford’s silver box? Merry and Pippin with their Longbottom Leaf from Southfarthing and the inferior Southlynch? Unlikely. While Hardin was cool, Vegan cigars sounded unappetizingly fungal. Merry and Pippin were kids, for Gods sake. And while Aragorn did smoke a long carved pipe and Gandalf would wipe the floor Bilbo’s  bottom smoke ringing, they never made it look cool.

I’ve got the twitchies now. I was on my feet and half way to the potti kadai down the street where the shopkeeper automatically takes out two packets of charms when he seems me approaching at a high mph. Had to turn back cursing lesions and blockages.

“Bond took out his black gunmetal cigarette box and his black oxidized Ronson lighter and put them on the desk beside him. He lit a cigarette, one of the Macedonian blend with the three gold rings around the butt that Morlands of Grosvenor street made for him…”

Aaaaaargh. I can’t take it anymore, and I haven’t even come to Wodehouse’s “The Man Who Gave Up Smoking”, Joseph Cotten’s masterly rings, Bogie in Rick’s CafĂ© with a bottle of booze and Dooley Wilson on the piano. Gatzing along to that orange light across the dock.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I haven’t done anything for the last few months – part because of general dijness, part because of moving to Bangalore and being without an Internet connection at home for a couple of months and partly because of the truly terrible net access at work.

Anyway, going back to the blogs that I have missed out on in during my limited net access months - there are a couple of things that I found interesting. The first was an article in the Smithsonian Magazine about Finland's successes in education. Picked it off Pharyngula - where Myers sums up with "They put good teachers in charge of deciding how students should be taught? How radical."

The other thing is the explosion at one of my favourite blogs, Balloon Juice. I've loved Cole's blog since I came across it - via Greenwald - when Cole got pissed off about the whole Schiavo shitfest. I loved the fact that among the heaping amounts of politics and media snark there would be intense discussions on the Dead or the latest Bioware game. But things blew up this morning with this post from Anne Laurie. I don't really think she should have done it the way she did, but I kind of get the frustration. While ABL may have her good points, I found her tedious and frankly depressingly fanatical in her defence of Obama. And she has her own crowd of Obots that do nothing but crap on anyone who dares criticize the dear leader. Plus you get the feeling that she confuses offensiveness with directness and any criticism made becomes racist. I've kept away from her posts and their threads - sticking to Cole, DougJ, Freddie DeBoer, Levenson and Laurie's posts instead. I always thought that Anne was one of the sweeter posters - with her pet rescue blogs and food stuff, which makes her meltdown all the more spectacular.

Its a huge pity, but I think Anne will lose this one. Plus, I wonder what Cole will do. He can't ignore this war any longer. The best thing to do would be to get the two As - ABL and AL into a room and shout at them until one agrees to tone down and the other agrees to back down, but I don't see that happening. Or will he chuck them both out? Or go Narasimha Rao and do nothing? The fight may be good for page views, but not for the blog. Whatever else, its more drama.