Birbal Sahni, FRS (1891-1949) was an Indian paleobotanist who studied the fossils of the Indian subcontinent. He founded what is today the Birbal Sahni Botanical Institute in Lucknow, India. Birbal Sahni was born on 14th November 1891 and got his early education in India at Lahore and graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1914. He later studied under Professor A. C. Seward, and was awarded the D.Sc. degree of London University in 1919. He returned to India and served as Professor of Botany at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and Punjab University for about a year. In 1921, he was appointed as the first Professor and Head of the Botany Department of the Lucknow University. The University of Cambridge recognized his researches by the award of the degree of Sc. D. in 1929. During the following years he not only continued his investigations but collected around him a group of devoted students from all parts of the country and built up a reputation for the University which soon became the first Center for botanical and palaeobotanical investigations in India. He established the Institute of Palaeobotany under the aegis of The Palaeobotanical Society on 10th September, 1946 which initially functioned in the Botany Department of Lucknow University but later moved to its present premises at 53 University Road, Lucknow in 1949. On 3rd April, 1949 the Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru laid down the foundation stone of the new building of the Institute, however, a week later, on 10th April 1949, Professor Sahni succumbed to a heart attack. Professor Sahni was recognized by several academies and institutions in India and abroad for his research. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS) in 1936, the highest British scientific honor, awarded for the first time to an Indian botanist.
His greatest contribution was the discovery of a new group of fossil gymnosperms which he called the “Pentoxyleae”. Sahni studied fossil leaves of Ptilophyllum, stem of Bucklandia and flower of Williamsonia and concluded that they all belong to the same plant which he reconstructed and named as Williamsonia sewardiana. He was elected Vice-President, Palaeobotany section, of 5th and 6th International Botanical Congress 1930 and 1935, respectively; General President of the Indian Science Congress for 1940; President, National Academy of Sciences, India, 1937-1939 and 1943-1944. In 1948 he was elected a foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Another high honor came to him was his election as an Honorary President of the International Botanical Congress, Stockholm in 1950.
The spectacled bear is small and dark, ranging in color from black to brown, and a few have a reddish tinge. It has distinctive circular or semicircular creamy white markings (spectacles) on the face around the eyes, reminiscent of spectacles. Lines and patches of white usually extend onto the throat and chest as well. The amount and pattern of the white markings can be quite variable. Spectacled bears get their name from the light colored rings around their eyes that make some of the bears look like they are wearing glasses. These shy bears are the only species that live in South America. Little is known about these rare bears because of a lack of research and the remoteness of the areas where they live. Because they live in warm climates, their fur is thinner than that of North American bear species.
Spectacled bears have long claws that allow them to climb trees very well. They also have large, flat molars so they can chew very tough plants that are found in the rainforest such as palms, cacti, and orchid bulbs.
Spectacled bears are highly adaptable and are found in a wide range of habitats, including rainforest, cloud forest, plateaus, dry forest, steppe lands, inland deserts and coastal scrub desert. Possibly because of loss of habitat and persecution by humans, they appear to be more common in heavy forest. They have been reported at altitudes ranging from about 180 to 4,200 meters (600 to 13,800 feet) but prefer moist forests, warm humid and foggy clouds that are above the rainforest floor at higher elevations. Which is between about 1,800 and 2,700 meters (6,000 and 8,800 feet). No populations have been documented from areas that lack bromeliads and fruits.
Females reach sexual maturity between four and seven years of age. They have a variable mating season. Mating can occur in April, May, and June, and pairs stay together for a week or two, with copulation occurring numerous times. Litters of one, two, or occasionally three cubs (usually two) and are born from November to February. Which is summer in South America. The cubs are born helpless and blind, but by the time they are a month old they are able to travel around the forest with mother, often by riding on her back Females and cubs in captivity vocalize using two and five types of calls respectively.
Mostly they eat vegetation, but will eat meat when given the opportunity. Spectacled bears eat a wide variety of foods, including rabbits, mice, birds, berries, grasses, palms and orchid bulbs, but have a strong preference for the leaves, bases, and hearts of plants of the Bromeliaceae family and the fruits of other plant groups. They love fruit and will spend days eating and sleeping in fruit trees. Sometimes they climb cacti to feed on fruit at the top. Tree nests are often constructed as a platform to feed from fruit-laden branches and to sleep in. It is the most varied herbivorous bear species.
Spectacled bears are generally nocturnal, feeding and traveling at dawn and dusk. They often spend their days in tree nests that are constructed as a platform to sleep in.
There is no evidence that they hibernate. Spectacled bears do not hibernate because they live in a warm climate. Females will build nests for newborn cubs, but otherwise remain active throughout the year.
Rain in Summer
How beautiful is the rain
After the dust and heat
In a broad of fiery street
In a narrow lane
How beautiful is the rain
How it clatters along the roofs
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it stuggles and gusses out
From the throat of overflowing spout
Across the window pane
It pours and pours
And swift and wide
With a muddy tide
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain the welcome rain
Sri Kaushik Chaliha
St. Stephen’s School
A Cat’s Nightmare
The cat woke up
with a beating heart
She had just had a
A little rat
and called her
Sunflower, sunflower, I love you
You look so gay and bright
Sunflower, sunflower, I love you
You make me think of light
When I see your cheerful face
I want to dance and sing
Sunflower, sunflower I love you
You make me think of spring!