Archive for August 15th, 2012

Small warning: this has nothing to do with chess…caught you out!

Interesting read:[from 2009]

Staying at home may have given the very first termite youngsters the best opportunity to rule the colony when their parents were killed by their neighbors. This is according to new research supported by the National Science Foundation and published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers say the incentive to remain home with siblings and inherit the parents’ estate could be the missing link to a question posed nearly 150 years ago by evolution theorist Charles Darwin. He wondered how natural selection could favor traits that reduce reproductive success among worker offspring in highly social insects.

This is especially curious because Darwin argued for small biological changes that result in greater chances of survival and successful reproduction over time. But social insects, ants, bees, wasps and termites colonies in particular can have over a million sterile and/or non-reproductive workers and soldiers, which seemed counterintuitive.

Research conducted by biologists at the University of Maryland, College Park shows that when two neighboring termite families meet within the same log, one or both families’ kings and queens are killed and a new, merged, cooperative colony results. Replacement “junior” kings and queens then develop from either or both colonies’ non-reproducing, worker offspring, and termites from the two families may even interbreed.

Pheromones produced by healthy kings and queens that normally suppress gonad development in worker or “helper” classes are absent or reduced when kings and queens are killed. As a result, suppression is lifted and nonrelated, “sterile,” helper offspring from both colonies are able to become new “reproductives” and assume the throne.

“Assassination of founding kings and queens may have driven young termite offspring to remain as non-reproducing workers in their birth colonies,” says lead researcher and University of Maryland professor Barbara L. Thorne. Rather than risking dangerous attempts at independent colony initiation outside the nest, remaining at home may have given these first termites a better opportunity to become reproducers by inheriting their parents’ throne. On the blue link you can view a video/audio clip about these termites.
Click HERE for the original article.

Click THIS LINK to read: ‘The Sould of the White Ant’ – by Eugene Marais – online in PDF format. You can also read a biographical note written by his son on this link.

Quote from Amazon: He was well, well ahead of his time and this enthralling, charming text should be treated as a historical document, not as a definitive guide to the termite.[Just ordered my copy – 2nd copy] I have a close relative busy with a study on the American termite and so has my interest in this ‘bug’ -or is it a mini-beast – started to grow again.

From Wikipedia: Eugene Marais: His book “Die Siel van die Mier” (lit. “The soul of the ant” but usually given in English as the “Soul of the White Ant”) was plagiarized by Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck, who published “The Life of the White Ant” in 1926, falsely claiming many of Marais’ revolutionary ideas as his own. Maeterlinck was able to do this because he was Belgian and, though his mother tongue was French, he was fluent in Dutch, from which Afrikaans was derived. It was common at the time for worthy articles published in Afrikaans to be reproduced in Flemish and Dutch magazines and journals.

Marais contemplated legal action against Maeterlinck but gave up the idea in the face of the costs and logistics involved. The social anthropologist Robert Ardrey said in his introduction to The Soul of the Ape, published in 1969, that “As a scientist he was unique, supreme in his time, yet a worker in a science unborn.” He also refers to Marais’ work at length in his book ‘ African Genesis.’ Source: Wikipedia

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A few wonderful days in Falmouth started with a fantastic meal at a Restaurant where we’d been showered with some splendid food and barrels of hospitality.

Dining out is not one of our favourite hobbies, but when going, we do like to enjoy a good meal and leave the restaurant satisfied, knowing it was worth spending good time and money and not good money for a mediocre experience. Finding a restaurant that satisfies your ‘needs‘, can also be quite a daunting job. Amanzi – in Falmouth – is definitely a restaurant I can recommend to anyone with any ‘need‘. Arriving at Falmouth, after 8 hours on the road – due to traffic incidents and curious drivers blocking the flow of the traffic -we were quite hungry! Quenching our thirst with some Elder Flower, one of my favourites, was a first choice when Carolyn – Amanzi’s friendly owner, made a suggestion. Amanzi’s menu has a variety of scrumptious meals, difficult to choose from, but at the end trio of sautéed locally caught fresh fish, with a lemon butter sauce and new potatoes and whole crab, mussels and tiger prawns platter in a white wine and cream sauce with salad and bread won! Sometimes you like to stick to what you know. When our food arrived, we were pleasantly surprised! You could almost feed a small army with what you can see on our plates! Hmmmm this is yummy….wow, this is so delicious…were phrases horribly overused at least in the first ten minutes of munching and scrunching.



The atmostphere in Amanzi is very relaxed and you enjoy having your meal in a restaurant where you know you don’t feel the waiters can’t wait for you to leave, so waiting costumers could be seated. Rhythmic, though relaxed music smuggled you further into your meal and it doesn’t interrupt your conversation.  If Carolyn – picture at the bottom – knows you are a South African, you will surely get a special treat. If you don’t know what this treat -in the little bowl in one of the pictures- is you surely are not calling yourself ‘South African‘.[lol] If you truly areSouth African‘, but still don’t know, just complete the next line….’Braaivleis, pap, Chevrolet, sonneskyn en b….’ If you ever travel to Falmouth, or surrounding areas, do make sure to visit Amanzi to meet Carolyn. You will not be disappointed in enjoying a great meal.Click HERE to visit Amanzi’s website.



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