Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tsingy, Tsingy, Tsingy: Extreme Karst Topography in Madagascar

      Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in Madagascar

is an example of extreme karst topography in very homogenous limestone.

      Due to the sharp nature of the limestone ledges and pinnacles ("tsingy" means "hurts to walk on in barefeet" in Malagasy), it is also home to a wide array of species endemic only to certain parts of the reserve, including a species of lemur (seen here in this 1 minute photo montage).

     The UNESCO World Heritage Site includes these well-defined karst features, shaped by rain with a low pH value (acid rain). The video will also refresh your French.

      The tsingy features are the sedimentary equivalent of the Hawaiian lava called aa. (Though, I can't imagine feeling very "singy" walking on those carbonate ridges, if, indeed, the Malagasy word sounds as I think it does).

      Of course, much of the species diversity at the reserve is due to Madagascar's being separated from the Indian peninsula 88 million years ago (see diagram below). This fourth largest island is a "biodiversity hotspot;" over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on earth due to its geographic isolation. 

      The microclimate of the Tsingy Nature Reserve created even further specialized plants and animals.

            So, the dilemma: do Madagascans go out for Indian food or perhaps food from Mozambique?

      Surely, it's a delicate balance.

      And please, you must remember this. . .

Have any of you been to the Tsingy Reserve? Eaten food from Mozambique? (I am assuming Indian food is on the table already. . .)


It's all about perspective:


  1. Leapin' lemurs! I imagine those sharp pinnacles are pretty stingy (with a hard "g") to walk on. Haven't had food from Mozambique, but I'm not stingy (soft "g") -- we're taking our niece and her Indian boyfriend to lunch at a Turkish restaurant in NY this weekend. Did Karsh every photograph karst?

    1. I wonder what Karsh would have done with a lemur portrait. . .

      "Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize."

  2. Sting-y--that's it! Interesting that, in English, we have stingy. . .but there's not really a sting-y.

    English is so weird.

  3. Oh, I wish I were a Madagascar lemur.
    That is what I'd truly love to be-e-e.
    For, if I were a Madagascar lemur,
    I could walk around most tsingily.

    1. "Grammar Girl" discusses the double dactyl.

      And, afterwards DO celebrate dinosaurs (see below). ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

  4. The kids in my SAT prep class asked if I gave birth to my son on March Fo(u)rth so I could make that pun. Can you imagine?!

  5. Replies
    1. That post might be "removed by a blog administrator" on another blog this week.


  6. I'm only a couple of hundred pages into Neal Stephenson's monster Seveneves, but I think it might be of interest to readers of this blog.

    1. The palindrome title is intriguing. . .

    2. Two excerpts from the book:

      Re: last week's SATurnalia: "She had the build of a volleyball player. Raised in Los Angeles, the only child of high-strung parents, Ivy had SATed, science faired, and spiked her way to Annapolis, then followed that up with a Ph.D. in applied physics from Princeton." (p. 14, describing the commander of the International Space Station.)

      And then, this, on p. 295: "As a way to deal with the exigencies of zero-gee life, and a surrender to a receding hairline, he had taken to wearing a short vacubuzz. This was the easiest thing to do with hair in space. The vacubuzzer was a machine that combined the functions of an electric trimmer and an industrial shop vac. Haircuts were self-serve and consumed about thirty seconds if you were unusually fastidious. Earplugs were recommended." Here, Stevenson is clearly taking artistic liberties with his description of RoboCut, a device I've used for about 30 years. I'd "surrendered to a receding hairline" about ten year before that, cutting my own hair with scissors in front of a mirror, as instructed by my grad school advisor, who'd used the same technique to cut his own hair and that of the other pilots in his carrier air wing before becoming a biologist. But my toddler son wouldn't sit still for that, so RoboCut it was. (No industrial shop vac needed; it uses any household vacuum, and it's not louder than the vacuum, so no earplugs are necessary.)

  7. Whenever I see "Madagascar" I flash back to Will Shortz's "Mazda+gas+car" puzzle from a decade or so ago.
    Whenever I see "tsingy" means "hurts to walk on in barefeet" in Malagasy, I flash back to 2013 when I began to post comments as "Lego" on Blaine's blog and other posters kidded me about the perils of walking barefoot on plush carpets and painfully "discovering" jagged Lego pieces!
    I love the word "Madagascan!"
    And I love Paul's poem (for which I take partial credit on the strength of posting a link similar to this on Puzzleria! recently).
    Here is my Double Dactyl Effort:
    Knuckles, like buckles, hold
    Dactyls together. When
    Pulled though, they Crackle and
    Pop but don't Snap


    1. I'm not doing this to be preachy.

      I know pride is a sin, but I'm kinda proud of this one:

      Verily, verily,
      Jesus of Nazareth
      Nourished the multitudes;
      Walked on the sea.

      Gentle and humble and
      Never was ever a
      One such as He.

      I'm not even "chief of sinners".
      That was that other guy.

    2. Bravo, Paul!
      A comprehensive double-dactylic bio in 44 syllables! And it rhymes.


    3. Lego and Paul, wonderful both!

      Amidst the last few coaching days before the SAT on SATurday, making PEOTS take a back seat at the moment. . .

    4. I stumbled onto an ad for a movie called The Thinning today.
      I see it's gotten some bad reviews, but I think it deserves points just for the premise.

    5. Not on the recommended viewing or reading lists. . .

  8. The title is a little strange but the images are extraordinary.

    1. That African grey parrot looks like he pining for the fjords.

  9. Replies
    1. When Trump announced his (first) Muslim travel ban, I changed my Facebook profile picture to an inverted flag. If I didn't know Sean's pin was just a mistake, I'd have to reconsider.

  10. Replies
    1. OK, or codocytes (also called target or sombrero cells). But I liked the food analogies next to the name, "Pan".

    2. Wow, jan, the resemblance to sombrero cells is striking.

      It's all about the scale, eh?{See new image at the end of this week's post.}

    3. If that's really a large tortilla, you'd need a really big room for it to approximate the size of the moon. Or, something terrible has happened (back to Seveneves...).

  11. New post on "Conodonts or "Cono-dos:" Odd Index Fossil Elements Belonged to Extinct Eel-Like Animals" is now up.