Presenting the world’s heaviest onion, an eye-watering 8.97-kg!

A man from Guernsey, Gareth Griffin, recently broke the world record for growing the largest onion in the world. And no, it is not one or three kg heavy, but it weighs 8.97 kg.

The world’s largest onion is around 53 times the weight of a typical brown onion and even heavier than a large bowling ball.

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> Gareth Griffin proudly displayed his produce at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show in North Yorkshire. This surpassed the previous record of 8.5 kg set back in 2014.

> His father grew giant onions for many years right up till the year he died, but his biggest was 7 lb 12 oz.

> Gareth’s onion, about 21 inches high, is believed to have broken the world record for size.

> He had tried for 12 years to break the record by growing onions at his home in Guernsey.

Gujarat bans plantation of exotic Conocarpus trees

Widely visible across the state – from the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad to the Ram Van “urban forest” in Rajkot, rows of Conocarpus trees, an exotic mangrove species, had been a popular choice for increasing the green cover in Gujarat in recent years.

But, the state government has now banned its “plantation in forest or non-forest area”, underlining its “adverse impacts on environment and human health”.

Earlier, Telangana too had banned the same plant species.

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> Trees of this species flower in winter and spread pollen in nearby areas. This is causing diseases like cold, cough, asthma, allergy.

> Their roots go deep inside the soil and develop extensively, damaging telecommunication lines, drainage lines and freshwater systems

> In 2018 Delhi decided to clear the Vilayati Kikar – a tree not native to Delhi (was brought to the city in the 1930s by the British). As it grew fast even in arid conditions, it kills off native trees like acacia, dhak, kadamb, amaltas, flame-of-the-forest, etc. which in turn is depleting the fauna — birds, butterflies, leopards, porcupines and jackals. In 2016, the Madras High Court too passed an interim order for the removal of these trees as they were depleting the water table.

> In Kerala’s Munnar, another British introduced tree, Eucalyptus, was stopped from being cultivated in forest tracts in 2018 after a study found that foreign invasive plants had reduced the availability of fodder in forests, forcing animals to foray into settlements and farmlands.

India’s first green hydrogen fuel cell bus flagged off in New Delhi

The initiative is part of a pilot project by Indian Oil which will see the fleet cover more than three million kilometres. It will hold operation trials in Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

The two buses have been purchased from Tata Motors. The buses will initially run in Delhi-NCR sans passengers.

15 more such buses are expected to ply on the roads of Delhi-NCR by the end of this year.

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> The buses each have four cylinders that can hold 30 kilos of hydrogen. The tanks can be refuelled in 10-12 minutes.

> These buses will also be more fuel efficient – covering 12 kilometres per kilo of hydrogen as against 2.5 to 3 kilometres per litre for diesel buses.

> Hydrogen will be India’s transition fuel for moving away from fossil fuels.
It is Environment-friendly: Only water vapour is emitted as a by-product when hydrogen is burnt, which means, no emission of polluting gases.
It is Energy efficient: Green hydrogen fuel has three times the energy density thereby making it not only a cleaner alternative but also more energy efficient.

New fish species has been found in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of West Bengal

It comes in vibrant orange, has a distinct pectoral-fin with black membranes on the inner surface, white posterior margin and three small white spots basally in fin.

This new deep water marine fish was discovered by the scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), making it the fourth species of pterygotrigla discovered in India so far out of the total 178 of the triglidae family across the world.

After thorough examinations, the specimens of this fish were found to be very distinct from other gurnad species in various aspects such as snout length, shape of the internuchal space and size of the cleithral spine.

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> Was found 90km from the coast of the West Bengal beach town of Digha.

> The new species commonly known as gurnards or sea-robins, belongs to the family Triglidae. Named Pterygotrigla intermedica, it has characters quite similar to species like Pterygotrigla hemisticta.

> The species was caught by a local fisher on October 20, 2018, along with other fishes. The researchers collected a total of 24 specimens – 23 of which are preserved at the ZSI’s Estuarine Biology Regional Center, Gopalpur and one specimen in the Marine Fish Section, Kolkata for further study.

World’s largest and smelliest flower may be extinct soon

According to new research, most species of the famously large Rafflesia flower, which has long captured the imagination with its enormous speckled red petals, are now at risk of extinction.

Thriving in rainforests, it is in danger of extinction due to habitat loss as well as poaching — its buds are harvested and sold for medicinal properties.

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> This largest known individual flower of the Earth is found only in Malaysia, Sumatra, Java & Kalimantan of Indonesia, southern Thailand, and southern Philippines.

> It has a smell like rotten meat making it known locally as “corpse flower”

> Rafflesia is actually a parasite, and lives on tropical vines across parts of Southeast Asia, producing blooms that are among the largest in the world.

> The plant cannot grow in captivity, and, as most occurrences of Rafflesia contain only male or female flowers, pollinations is rare. A fly must land first on a male flower, avoid being eaten, and then transport the pollen to a female flower.

> The flower was first discovered by French naturalist and adventure, Louis Dechamps in then Java (present day Indonesia) between 1791-1794. It was named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, an adventurer and founder of British colony of Singapore.

Rare metal Vanadium found in Gujarat

Vanadium, a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23 is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal was recently found in sediment samples collected from the Gulf of Khambhat, near Alang in Gujarat.

Found rarely in nature, but once isolated artificially, the formation of an oxide layer somewhat stabilizes the free metal against further oxidation. It is alloyed with steel and iron for high-speed tool steel, high-strength low-alloy steel, and wear-resistant cast iron.

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> Vanadium was discovered in 1801 by the Spanish mineralogist Andrés Manuel del Río, who named it erythronium but eventually came to believe it was merely impure chromium.

> The element was rediscovered in 1830 by the Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefström, who named it after Vanadis, the Scandinavian goddess of beauty and youth, a name suggested by the beautiful colours of vanadium’s compounds in solution.

> Considering the country’s long efforts to boost EV production, this revelation comes as a boon for the industry as vanadium is used as a crucial raw material in making batteries.

> Vanadium holds significant importance as a crucial raw material in strategic domains like defence and aerospace.

> Small amounts of vanadium have been previously discovered in regions such as Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, and Maharashtra.

Rare spotless giraffe spotted in Namibia

Where have all the spots gone? Some scientists say that this is a genetic anomaly while some others believe that technically these are not spotless animals, instead it’s “one-spot-all-over the giraffe.”

The unprecedented sighting occurred at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge, a private game reserve in central Namibia. Tour guide Eckart Demasius saw and photographed the solid-brown calf during a game drive on the roughly 90,000-acre reserve.

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Earlier this summer another spotless giraffe was born at the Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee. It has been named Kipekee, which means “unique” in Swahili.

Before these recent births, a giraffe with all-brown coloring was last seen at a Tokyo zoo in 1972.

Some aspects of giraffe spots are passed down from mother to calf, according to a 2018 study in the journal PeerJ, and larger, rounder spots appear to be linked to higher survival rates for younger giraffes, but the reasons for that remain unclear.

Fish with hands washes ashore

A rare “handfish”, believed to be extinct was found by a runner in Primrose Sands, a beach in Tasmania, Australia. The 9cm fish was initially thought to be a toadfish which is known to inhabit the coastal and estuarine waters of the area.

Scientists believed the species had been extinct for nearly 20 years but this discovery is all they need to renew research in the area.

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The spotted handfish, known scientifically as Brachionichthys hirsutus, is one of seven handfish species endemic to Tasmania and the Bass Strait. While once abundant on Tasmania’s east coast, the population has decreased sharply over the past three decades.

The rare fish is known to use its ‘hands’ to walk on the sea floor and cares for its eggs with the ‘fingered flippers’

50% of glaciers can disappear by 2100 due to climate change: Study

If the world reaches 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, 50 per cent of the glaciers would disappear and contribute 9 cm to sea level rise by 2100, as per a study published in the journal Science.

If the world reaches 2.7 degrees of warming — the estimated temperature increase based on climate pledges made at the Conference of Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change — nearly all glaciers in Central Europe, western Canada, and the US (including Alaska) will have melted.

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Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf (seen in picture), are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Ocean and atmospheric conditions are some of the drivers of ice sheet loss that scientists considered in this new study.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US, modelled glaciers around the world — not counting the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets — to predict how they will be affected by global temperature increases of 1.5 to 4 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Pleasantly mysterious golden egg found on the ocean floor

Ocean researchers using a remotely operated survey vehicle spotted a strange golden item on a rock about two miles deep in the Gulf of Alaska. It is over 4 inches in diameter and has a small tear near its base.

Initially it looked like a hat but as the videographers zoomed into, it seemed like a dead sponge attachment or a coral or an egg casing. But it was neither.

Invoking almost fairytale-like imagery, the specimen has since been dubbed a ‘golden orb’ and even a ‘golden egg.

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This unidentified object was seen on August 30, 2023, during Dive 07 of the Seascape Alaska 5: Gulf of Alaska Remotely Operated Vehicle Exploration and Mapping expedition.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the object is shiny delicate to the touch, is like skin tissue.

DNA tests in the lab could reveal an entirely new animal completely unknown to science. Dr Tammy Horton at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton couldn’t say what the mystery object is but agreed it is ‘potentially a new species’.