One of the largest of its kind, the scientific
name of this owl is the Greek word for
“swelling” or “groin.” (From that same word
we also get the name of an unrelated
The name it’s commonly known by has
another bird’s name prefixed to it.
Give me the scientific name and the common
name of this owl. (2 points)
Project Nim – about studying animal
Nim Chimpsky alluding to Noam
First observed by Hilda Bruce in 1959, when she
put pregnant mice with unfamiliar male mice in
the same cage. Castrated or juvenile mice did not
have any effect on the females.
Since then, it has been observed in laboratory
rodents, captive horses, and in monkeys and lions
(anecdotal evidence only).
Long considered to be a quirk of captivity, it
wasn't until last month that the first direct
observation of this effect in the wild (among
gelada baboons) was published.
Just tell us what the Bruce effect is.
Spontaneous abortion/miscarriage to avoid
male violence. Also called the pregnancy block,
the females terminate their pregnancy when
exposed to the scent of an unfamiliar male.
Capra falconeri gets its common name from the
Persian words for 'snake' and 'eater' - referring
to the fact that it has been seen to kill snakes,
or to the appearance of its horns.
According to an old-wives' tales, the froth
produced when it chews the snake is supposed
to be a potent antidote to snake bites.
ID this animal which happens to be the
national animal of Pakistan. (visual on next
It may be that the shape and spiral ribbing of a human
organ were reminiscent of the two valves of this
mollusc, and that gave rise to the English idiom. Some
aver that the idiom probably came about after the
shape of the mollusc itself.
The chambers of a kiln had the same name as these
molluscs. The cold chambers of a kiln must be brought
to a certain temperature in order to function at its best
and so arises the idiom, says theory two.
What is the idiom?
Despite being known more by its Japanese
name, especially in North America, it did not
originate in Japan, but rather in continental
The common name is variously prefixed with
“White”, “Japanese”, “Oriental” and “Chinese”
depending on the market one goes to shop at.
Its leaves are used in pickling. Koreans use the
leaves in Kimchi. South Indians add the
vegetable in Sambar.
Give the Japanese name of this vegetable that
means “long root” in that language.
What we usually call radish, it goes by
White Radish, Japanese radish, Oriental
radish, Chinese radish elsewhere.
The Peruvian coat of arms shows a wild South
American camelid, which lives in the high alpine
areas of the Andes, highly valued for its soft fine
wool, with some claiming that its fleece is the
rarest, most expensive natural fibre in the world
and a medicinal plant named by Linnaeus after the
wife of a viceroy of Peru, who according to legend
was the first European ever to be cured from
Name both. (2 points)
Cinchona – the bark of which gives us quinine
a. This is a technique that dates back 4,600
years to the 4th and 5th Egyptian
dynasties. What is going on?
b. There is a 6-letter word that is used to
describe the method shown, deriving
from the Old French for “gullet” or
“stuff”. What’s the good word?
a. Force feeding geese for foie gras
Foie gras – French for fat liver – is a food
product made of the liver of a duck or
goose that has been specially fattened.
• plot no greater than 3m x 3m
• 5 minute warm up time
• 3 person team of charmer, catcher and counter
World _____ ________ Championships held every year
at Willaston County Primary School, Cheshire
(pics in the next slide). Similar events have been
held in Canada and the United States.
Current world record of 567 held by a 10-year old
named Sophie Smith.
Fill in the blanks, OR what are these people doing?
Paraponera clavata inhabits the rainforests
stretching from Nicaragua to Paraguay. The locals
call it 'Hormiga Veinticuatro' a.k.a the '24 hour
Connect this iruve to the man shown in the picture
Ant called 'bullet ant', as its sting is as painful as
getting shot by one.
The sting of the bullet ant is reputedly the most
painful sting on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index.
That man is Justin O. Schmidt who came up with
Unlike all other birds, the male club-winged
manakin exhibits a behaviour more
commonly associated with insects and
arthropods (particularly crickets &
grasshoppers). Another example for sexual
selection driven to extremes, it involves the
two modified structures shown in the
picture (on the next slide).
What behaviour? (Looking for a specific
Stridulation - rubbing body parts together
to produce auditory signals to attract mates.
Crickets/grasshoppers rub limb structures;
the manakin rubs its 4th modified feather
like a bow across the 3rd.
Alfred Russell Wallace put forth the idea that their
purpose was to provide camouflage. A little known
naturalist Alexander M’Aldowie disagreed, saying
that they shielded embryos from radiation and
Wallace's argument has been the most accepted so
far, although recent research suggests that
M'Aldowie wasn't too wrong either. It has been
hypothesised that they influence embryonic
development by providing thermo-regulation, UV-
B protection, photo-acceleration, lateralization,
circadian rhythm, photo-reactivation, and
What are we talking about?
Dubbed 'immortal worms', these asexually
reproducing organisms have a near limitless
capacity for regeneration. It was found
recently that this is partly due to the fact
that they have a modified telomerase
enzyme, and can maintain the telomere
(chromosome ends) sequences even in
Identify the organism (generic name will
not be accepted).
In mammals, ‘sense X’ is mediated by a Tas1r2/Tas1r3
heteromer complex, while a Tas1r1/Tas1r3 complex
mediates ‘sense Y’(which is a Japanese loanword).
‘Hyper-carnivores’ (all cats, hyenas, dolphins, otters,
fossa and seals) do not have ‘sense X’, and it was found
recently that this was due to the Tas1r2 gene picking
up multiple mutations and becoming a non-functional
pseudogene. In hyper-carnivorous sea mammals,
‘sense Y’ is also lost as both Tas1r1 and Tas1r3 have
Mammals like dogs which stray from a ‘meat-exclusive
diet’ have working copies of all these genes.
ID X and Y (1 point each)
X – taste of sweetness
Y – umami – taste of meat
As a demonstration of 'personalized medicine',
geneticist Michael Snyder introduced something
he called “integrative Personal Omics Profiling.”
iPOP involved the merging of Snyder's genome
sequence with data from RNA, protein, metabolic
and auto-antibody profiles. The results showed
that Snyder was genetically predisposed to type II
diabetes, despite the absence of any family history
and risky behaviour.
Richard Gibbs at Baylor College of Medicine
dubbed this work the “__________-ome”
Fill in the blank. (clue in the next slide)
The “Narciss-ome” (the flower in the picture
is the Narcissus)
X, Y and Z get their names as they are
thought to have originated in the same city.
X is a breed of pet animal most famously
associated with a fictional supervillian.
We get wool from Y, although it does not
look remotely like a sheep.
Z did not actually originate in the city, but
gets its name as the product Q (obtained
from Z) was shipped from this city to
What are Z and Q?
X – Angora cat
Y – Angora rabbit
Z – Angora goat
Q - Mohair
For over a century, these two dinosaurs had
been classified as separate species. In the
last few years, Jack Horner and John
Scannella have put forth the idea that
dinosaur B was just a grown up dinosaur A.
This year, Nicholas Longrich re-analysed the
skulls of both animals and came to the
conclusion that they are indeed, distinct
Identify both dinosaurs. (2 points)
A – Triceratops
B – Torosaurus (has a much larger frill with
two holes in it)
A prime example of how sexual conflict shapes the
evolution of animals.
Although males and females in these animals form
stable bonds lasting a complete mating season, rival
males attempt what we politely call “forced
To gain an advantage, males have evolved corkscrew
phalluses that evert 'ballistically' directly into the
female vagina. Penises evert in an anti-clockwise
manner, and can extend upto a third of body size.
As a counter-measure, females have equally long
vaginas that spiral clockwise, and which are lined with
dead end pockets and sharp turns.
What animals are we talking about?
Milvus migrans govinda is a common sight in
most Indian cities. Like its namesake, it is
also a “dark one.” Another common name
for it is also a synonym for outcast but in
this case probably refers to its semi-feral
The only member of the Ophistocomus genus, this
bird is a native of the Amazon and Orinoco river
basins. Its taxonomic position has always been
subject to debate, and recent genome sequencing
efforts have only muddied the issue.
Its chicks are born with two claws on their wings,
which are lost as the bird matures. These help in
evading predators like hawks – on sighting one,
the chicks jump out of the nest into the waters
below. Once the danger has cleared, they climb up
to the nest using their clawed wings.
Identify the bird.
The Romans derived these symbols from
the initial letters of the Greek words for
certain astronomical objects. The symbols
were picked up by chemists, who used them
to denote iron, copper and mercury.
Carl Linnaeus was the first to use these in
biology as a scientific shorthand. The first
two symbols are still used unchanged, while
the third (for mercury) is now used to
denote something else (than what Linnaeus
used it for) .
Symbols for male(mars - iron - ♂),
female(venus – copper - ♀) and virgin
female (mercury - ☿).
The symbol for mercury was used by
Linnaeus to denote hermaphrodites.
A famous film-maker encounters this
creature somewhere in the forests of
What follows is a strange sequence of
sounds – a medley of various bird calls
(including that of a kookaburra), clicking of
a camera shutter, sounds from the motor
drive of a camera, and finally, sounds of
people using chainsaws to cut down trees.
What just happened here?
David Attenborough encounters the
Superb Lyre Bird
Here’s the video:
Heterocephalus glaber is one of only two eusocial
mammals. It has some very unusual physiological
traits that help it survive in its unique environment.
Among such traits are the ability to cope with reduced
oxygen availability, low respiratory & metabolic rates,
and a lack of thermoregulation. For unknown reasons,
it also cannot sense pain as its skin does not
synthesize the hormone substance P.
‘Modern’ biologists are interested in this animal as it is
extraordinarily long-lived, and is highly resistant to
cancer. It was found recently that this resistance might
be due to the presence of 2 proteins p27 and p16 that
serve as checkpoints and regulate cell proliferation.
Other mammals have only p27.
Identify the animal.
This shrub of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family
has long been used in traditional medicine for
anti-inflammatory purposes. Extracts of the plant
contain alkaloids like tropine, and a family of
steroidal lactones called withanoloids.
Withanolides are responsible for the anti-
inflammatory actions. Recent studies have shown
that they can be anti-metastatic, and may even
prevent aggregation of amyloid-beta (Alzheimer’s
Identify this plant that gets its species name from
the Latin for ‘sleep-inducing’. You might be more
familiar with it as its roots supposedly smell like a
Ashwagandha also known as Indian
ginseng (Withania somnifera)
Escamole has a cottage-cheese like
consistency, with a buttery and slightly
Considered a delicacy of Mexican cuisine, it
is often called ‘_______ caviar’. They are
usually harvested from the roots of the
agave and maguey plants (from which we
get tequila and mezcal respectively). The
harvesting is a tricky business, and having
experts around is advised.
What is escamole?
Escamole are larvae of ants of the genus
The wood of this plant has been used to
make artificial bones with a process that
lasts 10 days and treatments with
chemicals, heat and pressure.
It was chosen because its porous nature
allows blood vessels, nerves and other
compounds to grow through it.
Besides the common use we know it for, it
was also commonly used for corporal
punishment in English schools. What plant
Rattan – most commonly used to make
furniture or wicker baskets
The name __X__ __Y__ refers to their habit of hiding
downwind of ships prior to the appearance of bad
weather. __Y__ is a diminutive form of St Peter, and
might refer to their ability to seemingly ‘walk on
The english translation of this writer’s 1901 poem,
Song of the __X__ __Y__ has led to the name now
being used to describe revolutionary anarchists.
Gorky wrote Song of a Stormy Petrel, using the
bird as the protagonist in the poem about Russian
society's attitudes prior to the revolution.
Grimpoteuthis is a genus of deep-sea octopi which
use their prominent ear-like fins to hover in one
place searching for prey. This feature has led to
them being nicknamed after a character from an
animation film. Identify.
Discovered in the early 20th century by Frederick
Twort and Felix d’Herelle, they were immediately
recognized as a great tool against bacterial
infection. Early uses for therapy were unreliable,
and with the discovery of antibiotics, this soon
became a neglected field of research.
Although biologists continued to use them for
‘basic research’, it is only the efforts of George
Eliava (and later, the institute named after him) in
Tbilsi, Georgia that has kept this alive. The rise of
antibiotic resistance has now lead to more people
Tell us what type of therapy this is.
Phage therapy (using bacteriophages to treat
According to Greek myth, the lovers __X__ and Ceyx
angered Zeus, who punished Ceyx by throwing a
thunderbolt at his ship. The grief-stricken X
jumped into the sea. The gods then felt sorry, and
turned both into a pair of __Y__ birds.
Ovid tells us that during a particular period of 7
days each year, __X__ would lay eggs. To protect her
& her eggs, her father Aeolus would restrain the
winds and calm down the sea.
Her name gives us a word referring to such a
peaceful time. It also refers to a large group, and a
genus of birds __Y__.
What is Y?
This plant is known for exhibiting thigmonasty
or seismonasty. When regions of the cell lose
turgor pressure (force applied to the cell wall
by water & intra-cellular constituents), there is
an efflux of K+ ions. Water is forced out of
vacuoles and eventually out the cell. Loss of
cell pressure leads to collapse - this differential
turgidity between different regions eventually
leads to the collapse of the petiole.
Identify this plant whose scientific name would
translate as ‘bashful mimic.’
Give us the scientific name.
The name for this concoction in Quechua translates as
‘spirit vine’. It is made from the jungle vine
Banisteriopsis caapi which provides beta-carbolines,
and the shrub Psychotria viridis which provides
dimethyltriptamine (DMT). Taken singly, these
ingredients don’t do much, but synergize spectacularly
when taken together.
Beta-carbolines inhibit an enzyme called mono-amine
oxidase (MAO), which prevents DMT breakdown, and
also elevates serotonin levels in the brain. The effect is
a hallucinogenic trip (visual+auditory) lasting ~4
hours. The downside of this is elevated heart rates and
blood pressure, which cause severe nausea.
What is the name of this delicious brew?
For years, the reclusive Czech scientist Jaroslav Flegr
maintained that a protozoan was subtly changing our
brains and behaviour – contributing to car crashes,
suicides and mental disorders like schizophrenia.
Traditionally though, this parasite is the reason
pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes.
Recent studies have shown that in infected rodents,
the parasite up-regulates the production of dopamine,
altering regions of the brain involved with pleasure,
fear and anxiety (like in schizophrenics). Infection has
only been shown to be correlated with increased
anxiety, decreased attention and suicide in humans. It
is not yet known if the parasite is the cause, and also
whether it is sexually transmitted in humans.
Give us the name of this opportunistic parasite.
Wolffia is a genus of plants commonly called
watermeal or duckweed that exists as a
free-floating thallus without roots. The
flower consisting of one stamen and one
pistil is produced on the top surface.
What is special/unusual about Wolffia?
Achim Reisdorf and Michael Wutke recently
published a paper where they try to explain
a phenomenon called ophistotonus. They
got some chicken carcasses from the local
butchers', dunked them under water and
observed what happened to the
What were they trying to explain?
Why many fossilized animals appear with their
necks bent backwards
“The teams independently concluded that the ligaments in chicken
necks were like rubber bands — bendable, but contracted by
default to hold the bird’s head upright against gravity. In the dead
chicken, those ligaments still want to return to their natural,
unstretched position, but the dead weight of the bird fights against
it. In water, however, buoyancy and lack of friction allow the
ligaments to contract into their natural shape, cranking the neck
backward as they go.”
Considered a delicacy by the Japanese, they
can be eaten raw with ponzu sauce. Their
intestines are prepared in a dish called
konowata. Salted and dried ovaries are a
dish called konoko/kuchiko. What?
Long thought to be fossilized bacteria, these
microscopic structures were recently recognized
to be integral parts of the fossilized animals. Jakob
Vinther at Yale was the first to analyze these, and
perform a whole body reconstruction for a fossil
of Anchiornis. What structures? Or what first was
achieved with this reconstruction?
The bird is the red-tailed hawk and its call is
used for the bald eagle in movies/TV
because it’s “cooler”
Red tailed hawk:
First named after A, then briefly after B and
finally the name we now know them by is
after C. What?
This insignificant animal was recently
discovered to be one of the few organisms
able to survive in a vacuum (besides
bacteria, lichens etc) It was seen alive in the
electron beam of a scanning electron
microscope and was filmed waving a limb.
Once removed from the chamber, it even
What well-known animal is this?
Brookesia micra – a chameleon reported
recently from Madagascar. It is the smallest
About 37% of the plants found here are not
found anywhere else leading to it
sometimes being called “the most alien
looking place on Earth.”
Name this island/archipelago located south
of Arabia and east of the Horn of Africa.
Apparently now used as a fueling stop by
Dubbed the “A-B hypothesis,” this new revisionist
theory attempts to explain child development,
behavioral genetics and anthropology with an
analogy to two plants.
Some kids seem to thrive and develop irrespective
of what environment they are in (like flower A);
while other kids throw tantrums, have trouble
adjusting etc (all signs of stress), but given the
right environment actually outdo the rest(like
What are A and B?