Singing In The Rain

Immediately after the afternoon shower today, I heard the chirping of birds at the back of our house. As I look out the balcony, I saw a bird chirping away nosily. It was drenched but it doesn’t seemed to mind and the scene reminded me of the song Singing In The Rain. -)

So I grabbed my camera and managed to fire a couple of shots. The bird immediately flew off.

Bird Singing In The Rain

Living Fossil Caught

Found this very interesting news item in the BBC News today.

Imagine a creature that survives 350 million years virtually unchanged!!

Fisherman catches ‘living fossil’

An extremely rare “living fossil” caught by a fisherman in Indonesia is being examined by scientists.

The 1.3m-long (4.3ft), 50kg (110lb) coelacanth is only the second ever to have been captured in Asia and has been described as a “significant find”. An autopsy and genetic tests are now being carried out to determine more about the specimen.

Coelacanths provide researchers with a window into the past; their fossil record dates back 350 million years.

These fish are odd in appearance, looking almost as if they have legs because of their large-lobed fins – they are sometimes dubbed “old four legs”. The blue fish can also perform headstands, hovering with their head just over the sea floor, possibly to detect food.

Scientists previously thought the fish group had died out about 70 million years ago, but were shocked when in 1938 a species was caught in a fishing net off the east coast of Africa.

Since then, more than 300 of the modern coelacanth species (Latimeria chalumnae) have been found in the waters around the Comoros Islands, which are situated in the Western Indian Ocean, and the eastern coast of Africa.

A living coelacanth (Hans Fricke/Max-Planck Institute)

Their unusual fins make the fish look like they have legs

However, scientists were surprised once again when a coelacanth was discovered thousands of kilometres away in Indonesia in 1998.

It looked similar to the coelacanths found near Africa, but genetic analysis revealed that the genomes differed by about 3.5%, and it was described as a new species called Latimeria menadoensis.

Peter Forey, a coelacanth expert at the Natural History Museum, London, said: “When the Indonesian coelacanth turned up in 1998, lots of people went out to look for more around this area, but nobody ever saw anything until now.

“The fact that another specimen has been found is significant; it confirms that this is a genuine location for another coelacanth’s population.”

A fearsome catch

Justinus Lahama, an Indonesian fisherman, caught the fish two months ago off the coast near Manado, on northern Sulawesi Island.

He told AFP news agency: “It was an enormous fish. It had phosphorescent green eyes and legs.

“If I had pulled it up during the night, I would have been afraid and I would have thrown it back in.”

Justinus Lahama

Justinus Lahama caught the fish

He took the catch back to the port where it remained alive for 17 hours in a netted pool outside of a restaurant. It was then frozen and is now being examined by scientists.

Genetic fingerprinting tests to be carried out by an international team of scientists will confirm if it is the same species as the coelacanth found in 1998.

The tests, said Dr Forey, could also help to reveal more about how and why the two species exist thousands of kilometres apart.

“The fact that the two populations are separated by this enormous gap of thousands of miles begs the question of how long ago and why they separated,” he said.

“Estimates from the genetic fingerprinting carried out on the fish caught in 1998 suggest that they separated about four to five million years ago, however if you look at the geology of the oceans, it suggests that they should have separated about 30 million years ago.

“More sequences taken from this new fish will help us to calibrate these estimates.”

Various efforts to conserve these ancient fish are underway. They are considered to be endangered and are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

On Wednesday, another group of scientists announced that they had discovered a 400-million-year-old fossil of a coelacanth fin.

The find was reported in the journal Evolution and Development.

Researchers from the University of Chicago said it had been excavated from sediments at Beartooth Butte in northern Wyoming and would reveal more about the evolution of the creatures.

Three Legged Chicken

Spotted this unusual item in the NST today:

Three Legged Rooster

FOWL SURPRISE: Chicken trader Shaharnizam Abdul Rahman (right), 32, got the shock of his life when he discovered that a rooster he was about to slaughter had three legs. He had bought the 2.5kg rooster among 30 chickens from a farmer in Guar Chempedak six months ago for rearing. When he caught the rooster to slaughter last week, he realised that it had a third leg, which was the same size as the other two. “I was offered up to RM800 to part with the rooster but decided against it. I consider it a gift from God,” he said, while his friend, Mohd Zaudi Mohd Hashim, looked on. — NST picture by Rahmat Othman.

Lucky Albino Crow

This article appeared in the Sunday Star on 15th July 2007.

Insurance man claims albino crow brings him luck

MALACCA: Black crows which are a common sight are often shunned as dirty and unlucky, but an albino crow has brought luck to its owner.

Insurance agent Winston Tan has kept a snow-white albino crow sporting a pink beak and red eyes in his house since three months ago.

He had chanced upon two adult crows trying to teach the albino chick how to fly.

“The chick dropped to the ground and I brought it back,” he said, adding that he fed the bird with earthworms, crickets and sometimes even small lizards.

Tan recalled that he was even “attacked” by the two black birds when he went to pick up the albino chick.

Today, the albino bird has learnt to fly by itself.

“Occasionally, I will let the bird out of the cage to fly freely in the room,” said Tan.

Tan said that on one occasion, he had forgotten to close the window and the bird flew away.

“To my surprise, it flew back into the room,” he said.

Tan did not mind the bird’s return.

He said that the bird had been a lucky charm ever since it joined the “household”.

“I have won a small amount of money through lottery since I reared this bird,” said Tan.

Malaysian Stamps getting more popular

A few days back, I went to the GPO here in Kuala Lumpur to purchase some Insects Series III Miniature Sheets. To my surprise and consternation, I was informed that the item has been sold out! What! I thought, you got to be kidding! The issue was only a few days old (Issue Date: 7th July 2007) and it cost RM5 a piece. Most people would not want to buy too many of this item as it was relatively an expensive item.

Anyway, the counter staff informed me that the item was indeed out of stock. Other recent items that are also out of stock are the Booklet and Miniature Sheets of Visit Malaysia Year 2007 issued on 19th March 2007.

The 3 items are show below:

To all the collectors who are lucky enough to own the items before they were sold out, congratulations. Hope you cherish these beautiful items.

Insects Series III Miniature Sheet

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 MIniature Sheet

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 Booklet

Insects – Series III

Pos Malaysia chose today 07-07-07 to launch their latest stamp issue on Insects – Series III.

Series I was about Wasps and was launched on 29th July 1991.

Series II was issued during Stamp Week ’98 on 28th November 1988. The M/S of this issue is shown below.

Insects Series II

The latest offering from Pos Malaysia is shown below.

The interesting thing is that our Pos Malaysia is becoming more adventurous and creative. They are more willing to try new processes, styles and techniques. The last issue on Childrens Folk Tales has silver foil hot-stamped onto the miniature sheet. This time round, they are using diffraction foil. Both techniques are being used for the first time by Pos Malaysia.

Insects Series III Stamps

Insects Series III Miniature Sheet