You’ve come a long way baby

The Family looked at the photo which is featured in this post and asked “Does this have an interesting caption?” This infant stump-tailed macaque had climbed away from its mother and, when I took the photo, had just stopped climbing and realized how very far it had got. I thought of the Virginia Slims ads from 1969 which had already become the butt of jokes (including this atrocious pun) when I was an undergraduate.

Thinking of it led me to search the tubes and find this compilation. Have fun reliving the glory days of substance abuse.

Dead leaves

I spent all of yesterday traveling; first a few hours by car, and then another few hours flying across the continental plate of India. Half a day cocooned in the dead space which surrounds air travelers is enough to create a distance between the fresh memories of the previous night and the next morning. The fact that I walked through a pristine rain forest all day long is a distant whisper from my memory.

Three days in the forest, and two days of travel bracketing that brief stay makes for a fairly long trip. Deep inside the forest you come across giant Hollongapar trees, some of which are over 50 meters tall. In the middle of the dense forest these immense trees seem to disappear through the canopy into the invisible sky. The dense undergrowth restricts your vision to a couple of meters around you. Apart from the awe-inspiring trunks of tall trees, all you can see are leaves and more leaves.

With my vision so restricted, I decided to concentrate on photos of dead leaves, and found that there are so many different ways that leaves can die! The Family asked me, “How old are these forests?” My first answer was that they must be a few hundred years old. But then I had second thoughts. Many of the species that we see have evolved within this ecosystem. Since some of these species are tens of millions of years old, the rain-forests must have been there at least that long. The few square kilometers of fragmented forests that we saw could well be the remains of a forest which has survived the ice ages. From all that we know, rain-forests have survived geological ages of radical warming and cooling. Their rapid decline could well be due to one particular animal: Homo sapiens.