Friday, August 27, 2010
Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants. It contains approximately 27 species (including four incompletely characterized species as recognized by Willem Meijer in 1997), all found in southeastern Asia, on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines.
Rafflesia was found in the Indonesian rain forest by an Indonesian guide working for Dr. Joseph Arnold in 1818, and named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the leader of the expedition. It was discovered even earlier by Louis Deschamps in Java between 1791 and 1794, but his notes and illustrations, seized by the British in 1803, were not available to western science until 1861.
The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It is an endoparasite of vines in the genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae), spreading its absorptive organ, the haustorium, inside the tissue of the vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. In some species, such as Rafflesia arnoldii, the flower may be over 100 centimetres (39 in) in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kilograms (22 lb). Even the smallest species, R. baletei, has 12 cm diameter flowers. The flowers look and smell like rotting flesh, hence its local names which translate to "corpse flower" or "meat flower" (but see below). The vile smell that the flower gives off attracts insects such as flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers. Most species have separate male and female flowers, but a few have bisexual flowers. Little is known about seed dispersal. However, tree shrews and other forest mammals apparently eat the fruits and disperse the seeds. Rafflesia is an official state flower of Indonesia, also Sabah state in Malaysia, as well as for the Surat Thani Province, Thailand.
The name "corpse flower" applied to Rafflesia is confusing because this common name also refers to the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) of the family Araceae. Moreover, because Amorphophallus has the world's largest unbranched inflorescence, it is sometimes mistakenly credited as having the world's largest flower. Both Rafflesia and Amorphophallus are flowering plants, but they are still distantly related. Rafflesia arnoldii has the largest single flower of any flowering plant, at least when one judges this by weight. Amorphophallus titanum has the largest unbranched inflorescence, while the Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera) forms the largest branched inflorescence, containing thousands of flowers; this plant is monocarpic, meaning that individuals die after flowering.
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The Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus) is also known as the Monyet Belanda in Malay, the Bekantan in Indonesian or simply the Long-nosed Monkey. It is a reddish-brown arboreal Old World monkey that is endemic to the south-east Asian island of Borneo. It belongs in the monotypic genus Nasalis, although the Pig-tailed Langur has traditionally also been included in this genus - a treatment still preferred by some.
While the official Indonesian name for this monkey is Bekantan, an Indonesian nickname is 'monyet belanda', meaning 'Dutch monkey' or 'Orang Belanda', the Indonesian word for 'Dutchman', as Indonesians noticed the Dutch colonisers often also had a large belly and nose
A distinctive trait of this monkey is the male's large protruding nose, from which it takes its name. The big nose is thought to be used to attract females and is a characteristic of the males, reaching up to 7 inches in length. The females also have big noses compared to other monkey species, but not as big as the males. Besides attracting mates, the nose serves as a resonating chamber, amplifying their warning calls. When the animal becomes agitated its nose swells with blood, making warning calls louder and more intense.
Proboscis Monkey belong to the order of Primates, from the family Cercopithecidae and subfamily Colobinae (Bennett & Gomber, 1993). According to Bennett & Gomber (1993), in the Old World, these monkeys are divided into two groups known as cercopithecines and colobines. Proboscis Monkey are colobines. Males are much larger than females, weighing up to 24 kg (53 pounds) and reaching 72 cm (28 inches) in length, with a tail of up to 75 cm in length. Females are up to 60 cm long, weighing up to 12 kg (26 lb). This large sexual dimorphic difference is greater than in any other primate.
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