Verba Scientiae - Issue 2 (31 August 2021)

Newsletter - Synapse, The Zoology Society, Miranda House
Issue 2
31 August 2021

verba scientiae

2 | 31 AUGUST 2021

" The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the

midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is

to reclaim a little more land. "

Thomas Henry Huxley


Dinosaur fossils from China

Divine rings and light echoes

Scientists have discovered two new species of

somphospondylan sauropods, namely Silutitan

sinensis and Hamititan xinjiangensis, the first

vertebrates reported in Northwest China.

The first is Silutitan sinensis gen. et sp. nov.,

which consists of an articulated middle to

posterior cervical vertebrae series. The second,

Hamititan xinjiangensis gen. et sp. nov., consists

of an incomplete articulated caudal sequence.

Their discovery provides further support of the

wider diversification of sauropods in Asia

during the early Cretaceous period.

Astronomers at NASA’s Chandra X-Ray

Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift

Observatory have spotted a striking set of rings

around a black hole which is a part of the V404

Cygni binary system. These rings, created by

light echoes, throw light upon not only the

black hole’s behaviour, but also on the

landscape that lies between Earth and V404


A light echo is analogous to a sound echo

where light reflected from very distant sources

arrives after a delay period relative to the

source. Since light travels much faster than

sound these echoes are observed only at

astronomical distances.

The Stonehenge secrets

Probiotics can save corals too

A comprehensive study of the Stone 58, one

of the Stonehenge’s megaliths, has revealed

the secret behind the monument’s durability.

Made up of “a highly indurated, grain

supported, structureless and texturally

mature groundwater silcrete”, the stone

comprises fine-to-medium grained quartz

cemented by optically-continuous syntaxial

quartz overgrowths, making it one of the

most durable substances.


The Science of Marvel by Sebastian Alvarado

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

While looking for a solution for the mass coral

bleaching, scientists have recently discovered

that dosing the corals with a mix of some

beneficial bacteria, known as BMCs (Beneficial

Microorganisms for Corals), helps the corals to

mitigate environmental stresses such as heat


BMCs allow microbiome restructuring within

the coral colonies that facilitate genetic and

metabolic alterations required for dealing with

environmental stressors. Introduction of BMC

also increases the survival rates by 40% and

photosynthetic efficiency.


Unexpected growth rates

With rising sea temperatures and increasing pollutant

concentrations in the seas, massive die outs and reef

bleaching have become run of the mill phenomenon.

However for the Fluted giant clams (Tridacna squamosa),

these changes have had contrary effects and the species

has showed progressively increasing growth rates as

evident by their periodic ring depositions.

One of the prime contributors is the increasing nitrate

concentration, which aids the proliferation of the

symbiotic algae that live with these clams. Whether better

this growth can be correlated with better health, still

remains to be seen.

Young microbiota vs the

Eyes of the beholder

ageing brain

Transplantation of fecal microbiota from

young mice attenuated cognitive impairments

and reversed differences in hippocampal

metabolites, and some aspects of peripheral

and brain immunity in the aged mice.

Usually the 'good' bacterial gut fauna is

gradually replaced by pathogenic and 'not so

good' fauna as the organism ages and is

subjected to chronic inflammation, metabolic

dysfunction and diseases. Thus as an

individual ages, the gut fauna deteriorates,

having adverse effects on brain health, while

also increasing chances of neurodegenerative

diseases. Rejuvenating this gut fauna could

mitigate some of these effects.

These findings further hint at the intricate gutbrain

axis and the deeply interconnected

nexus that exists between the central nervous

system and the enteric nervous system.

Researchers have successfully grown human

organoid brains with functional primordial optic

vesicles that are capable of responding to light


These vesicles posses both neural and non-neural

cell types including primitive corneal epithelial

and lens-like cells, retinal pigment epithelia,

retinal progenitor cells, axon-like projections, and

electrically active neuronal networks.

The studies throw light on the intrinsic ability of

the brain organoid to self-organize and form

associates sensory structures in a topographically

restricted and controlled manner. These studies

may aid in the analysis of interorgan interactions

using only a single organoid model.

Arthropodan adhesives

Bleeding is a serious and a quick killer. Most adhesives

and technical instruments used are usually slow to act

and not very effective when the tissue is wet with blood.

A new barnacle inspired glue, strongly adheres to wet

and contaminated surfaces owing to its adhesive

proteins embedded in a lipid-rich matrix. It is capable of

sealing tissues in less than 15 s, independent of bloodcoagulation


Question quests

Mutations in the “ A and B ” gene locus are accompanied by the malformation of Terminalia in

adult drosophila. Male and female genitalia often remain inside the body, i.e., they lack the

external genitalia just like this gene’s namesakes, who were introduced to us as teen models in

1961 and 1959 respectively and have since been at the center of body image controversies.

Identify the gene.

Last issue's answer : DNA origami


The Gestalt Approach: Self discovery for Creative Expression and Communication

Ms. Zaara Haroon | 7 August 2021 | Synapse & IQAC MH

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”

An alumna of MH Zoology Department Batch 2007 and

currently a photojournalist, Ms. Zaara Haroon, enlightened

the students with different career opportunities through the

concept of the Gestalt Approach.

Ms. Haroon inspired us not to look at our career in isolation

with what we have today but with respect to the

opportunities that are being created for tomorrow.

Limitless Opportunities: Finding the Key to Life

Ms. Elangbam Sonia | 14 August 2021 | Synapse & IQAC MH

“If you want it done right, do it yourself”

From being a like a duck, calm on the surface while paddling hell

underneath, to forgiving ourselves and staying strong during the

hardest times, Ms. Elangbam Sonia, an MSC/ Deputy Secretary in

the Government of Manipur and once a student of the Zoology

Department of MH (Batch 2003), shared with us many a lessons

that she learnt herself from the various phases of her life.

She helped us realize that there is no dearth of career

opportunities, we merely need to look around for them, and that

any knowledge can shape our careers if we just know what our

interests and capabilities are.

Pursuing Higher Education Abroad

Ms. Asima Abidi | 21 August 2021 | Synapse & IQAC MH

Ms. Asima Abidi, a PhD scholar in Immunology at the Radboud

Institute, the Netherlands and an MH alumna of the Batch 2017,

deliberated the pros and cons of studying abroad. On one hand,

there is a lot of diversity in the courses, interactions with the best

academicians out there and access to state-of-the-art

infrastructure besides the added independence, whereas on the

other hand there is cut-throat competition, loneliness and a

need for financial help. Ms. Abidi motivated us to keep our

options open at all times while inspiring us to make our own


Sessions on Science of Spirituality

Sessions on Science of Spirituality organised by the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission: Two sessions were

conducted on the topics "Fearlessness in Challenging Times through Meditation" and 'Empowering

your persona through Meditation". The speaker for both the sessions was Ms. Seema Charla.The first

session was about how to overcome the fear and panic caused by the pandemic through meditation.

The positive effects of meditation, its effect on hormonal balance, peaceful state of mind, and

positivity, was elaborated upon. The second session focused on the positive effects of meditation on

our physical and mental health.

Meditation gives us energy and strength, reduces stress, cardiac diseases, diabetes and hormonal

disorders. In this age of technology, our concentration and productivity is decreasing while distractions

are increasing. Meditation helps reshape the brain, increasing grey matter and increasing our IQ,

memory and concentration. Ageing of the brain is also reversed. Both the sessions ended with a 10-

minute meditation session and a question-answer session.

Think Beyond Normal

Dr. Megha Mittal | 28 August 2021 | Synapse & IQAC MH

“Growth and comfort cannot be together but there is comfort in growth”

Dr. Megha Mittal, an Executive Coach and Leadership Facilitator

and an alumna of Batch 2007, encouraged us to find our own

ikigai, the reason for our being. Married at the mere age of 23 into

a conservative family, she survived an abusive marriage and rose

from the ashes to emerge as a successful entrepreneur.

Her life motivated us to stay positive no matter how grim the

situation is. She inspired us to take the rein of our lives in our own

hands to make it better.

Sapientiae blogs by us this month

Fat but fit - Kritika

Inevitable demise - Kamakshi

Olympic victories: Celebrating Victors and Denying Struggles - Geetika

The Rise of Genetic Counselling - Vanshika

Here is the general link for the department blog : Sapientiae

Please fill out this feedback form to help us improve and vote for your

favorite article this month !

(It's really short and won't take very long )

Further readings and references

New dinosaur species

Wang, X., Bandeira, K.L.N., Qiu, R. et al. The first dinosaurs from the

Early Cretaceous Hami Pterosaur Fauna, China. Sci Rep 11, 14962


Light rings and black holes

Stonehenge durability

Nash DJ, Ciborowski TJR, Darvill T, Parker Pearson M, Ullyott

JS, Damaschke M, et al. (2021) Petrological and geochemical

characterisation of the sarsen stones at Stonehenge. PLoS

ONE 16(8): e0254760.

Fluted clam growth rates

Coral probiotics

Santoro EP, Borges RM, Espinoza JL, Freire M,

Messias CSMA, Villela HDM, Pereira LM, Vilela CLS,

Rosado JG, Cardoso PM, Rosado PM, Assis JM, Duarte

GAS, Perna G, Rosado AS, Macrae A, Dupont CL,

Nelson KE, Sweet MJ, Voolstra CR, Peixoto RS. Coral

microbiome manipulation elicits metabolic and

genetic restructuring to mitigate heat stress and

evade mortality. Sci Adv.2021 Aug 13

Barnacle glue

Yuk H, Wu J, Sarrafian TL, et al. Rapid and coagulationindependent

haemostatic sealing by a paste inspired

by barnacle glue [published online ahead of print,

2021 Aug 9]. Nat Biomed Eng. 2021

optic vesicle-containing brain organoids (OVB-organoids)

Gabriel E, Albanna W, Pasquini G, et al. Human brain organoids

assemble functionally integrated bilateral optic vesicles [published

online ahead of print, 2021 Aug 12]. Cell Stem Cell. 2021

Synapse, Zoology Department | Miranda House

Staff advisors: Dr. Nisha Vashishta (TIC) & Dr. Yasha Yadav

President: Swathi B. Choudhary

Editors: Kamakshi & Kritika

Co-Editors: Damayanti & Sruti


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