Sci-tech: Smarter small

By Manzoor Chandio
Written on May 27, 2007

Talking about protecting the rights of the different species that exist on our planet may be an absurd idea, because we live in a country where even basic human rights are not protected.
Ours is a country where the rulers regularly invite ‘foreign dignitaries’ to hunt wild animals and birds which in many countries are considered national heritage.
The economies of some African countries have gained strength because of animal safaris; but in Pakistan not only do the influential members of the ruling elite kill precious animals and birds, but they also invite foreigners to join them in this heinous act.
No less than 10,000 years ago, human beings and animals lived in separate worlds.
Then human beings began the process of ‘animal domestication’.
They developed a one-sided relationship with animals and started using them to their advantage.Today we are only friendly to ‘tamed’ and ‘useful’ domestic animals, but unfriendly to the ‘tiny’ and ‘ugly’ ones.
Recently, certain research works recognised the simple built-in functions of these tiny creatures as useful for humanity.
Human beings generally develop contempt for insects from an early age. They crush them under their feet the moment the see them.
But two new branches of science —nano-technology and bio-technology — have recognised that these tiny creatures are quite valuable.
The creature most disliked by many humans is the maggot — a creature like a short worm, which is the young form of a fly and is found in decaying meat and other food. It takes birth in the dirtiest of places.
In our society, we even say things like “nali ka ganda keera” when we look at it.But science has proved that this ganda keera is useful for human beings.
We did not know until recently why maggots are not attacked and killed by bacteria, germs and viruses. When human beings are hit by bacteria, they fall ill and take to bed.
It would be interesting to note that it has now been discovered that flies “possess a bacteria-fighting substance that protects their eggs and larvae from contamination.”
Not only are they bacteria-resistant creatures, but their larvae acts as quite a good cleaner. It helps maintain the environment clean.
Recently, a documentary film was screened on a known TV channel. It tried to prove that maggots could be used for eating cancers, because they only eat unclean pieces of flesh.
The producers of the documentary set free several maggots on the body of a man, a patient, and they cleaned the infected mass without harming him.
It is the great bluebottle maggots that eat the flesh of the dead.It is said that scientists are close to discovering how bears go into hibernation for months without eating and drinking.Then there is also the example of the moth.
Scientists have found that the moth “is equipped with a dormant hormone that enables its larvae to hibernate.This hormone is known to suppress the growth of cancer cells in animals. Research projects are now under way to extract these substances for pharmaceutical applications.”
Termites are considered man’s enemy; but scientists have drawn inspiration from them. They carry more than 100 species of bacteria in their stomach and make sugar from the wood that they eat.
Cockroaches quickly escape the scene that they feel can proved dangerous to them. It happens because their bodies are designed in such a way that they move without receiving any command from the brain.
It is said that scientists are about to benefit from this aspect of cockroaches for sensor technology.

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