Shells, butterflies, earthworms enthral visitors

Shells, butterflies, earthworms enthral visitors

Mangaloreans had a rare opportunity on Friday to witness a variety of molluscan shells, specimens of butterflies, insects and earthworms, at a molluscan shell exhibition organised by the Department of Applied Zoology of Mangalore University, at Ravindra Kala Bhavan in University College. The expo will be held till March 2. 

The expo is organised to create awareness among the people on biodiversity. 

The university received a huge collection of shells from epigraphist and researcher Manjeshwar Mukund Prabhu. He had donated his collection to the university in 2001.  

Department Chairman Dr K Bhasker Shenoy said that the exhibition showcases more than 2,000 shells from more than 80 families representing different ecological systems and biodiversity hotspots from all over the world. 

A good number of shells are from the world ocean ecosystem. “More than 300 species are from the Indian subcontinent.” 

The expo exhibits ‘Syrinx aruanus,’ world’s largest snail and ‘Tridacna maxima,’ a largest species in Bivalvia variety also finds its place. A tiny shell belonging to ‘Buccinidae’ family is one of the smallest sea shells in the collection. 

Showing shell of ‘Conus geographus,’ Dr Shenoy said that although all cone snails hunt and kill prey using venom, the venom of this species is dangerous and they sting humanbeings, resulting in death. Several navigators have died following the sting of the  ‘Conus geographus’ species, he said. 

A ‘ganapathy shanka’ or Cymatium was another attraction at the expo. ‘Xenophoridae,’ popularly known as carrier shells, spider conches, cone shells, dove shells, coral shells, cerithids shells, architectonidea (used in ornaments and key bunches), brusidae (frog shell), bubble shells, fresh water snails of paddy fields, fresh water molluscs of Sakleshpura were on display. 

At the same time, to create interest in onlookers, there was a demo on life stage of fresh water snails. Dr Shenoy said that many of the species come under Scheduled Shells, which is prohibited marine animals under Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. There were also display of fossils of molluscs. 

Butterflies

Specimens of 256 species of butterflies collected by Manjunath Hegade was another attraction. 

Hegade said that he had collected it in Shimoga, as a part of a project for Centre for Wildlife Conservation Society- India Programme under the guidance of Ullas Karanth. The collection has a specimen of ‘Southern Birdwing,’ a largest butterfly in India. By showing ‘Crimson Rose,’ he said that it is poisonous. ‘Blue Nawab’ is most endangered species of butterfly in India, which is also on display. 

Species diversity of carabide and scarabaeidae found in Sullia and Kodagu,   short horned grass hoppers found in Mangalore University campus and its surrounding regions were also on display. 

Deepak Naik, a first year student of Applied Zoology has exhibited four stages of 22 species of butterflies found in Puttur taluk through photographs. “I have documented 30 species of butterflies and have displayed 22 species,” he said. “I started this hobby while pursuing my BSc.” A few of the butterflies that have been documented by him are  ‘Common Castor,’ ‘Common Evening Brown,’ ‘Lemon Pansy,’ ‘Plains Cupid,’ ‘Plain Tiger’ and ‘Tawny Coster.’ Showing the photographs of Plains Cupid, Naik said that during the larval stage, it secrets sugar like substance which attracts ants towards it. 

Earthworms

Collection of earthworms by Dr Siddaraju M of Alike Sathya Sai College was another highlight at the expo. 

There are 100 species of earthworms in Dakshina Kannada district. “I have  collected 12 of the aquatic earthworms. The size of the aquatic earth worms is two milli meter.” He has documented earthworms of Octochaetidae species that are endemic to Dakshina Kannada. Naididae earthworms clean water in pond and well, he said. 

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