Train Carrying 660,000 Gallons of Water Arrives in India’s Parched Chennai
A special train loaded with 2.5 million liters (approximately 660,000 gallons) of water reached the parched Indian city of Chennai Friday, The Times of India reported. The water was sent to relieve India's sixth-largest city, which is running out of water due to lack of rain.
The train left the station in Jolarpet around 7:10 a.m and arrived in Chennai around noon, where it was greeted by state ministers.
It was scheduled to depart Thursday, but was delayed due to leaking in the valves connecting the water tank to the railway station, Reuters reported.
The train is set to be the first of many: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami promised in June to send trains carrying 10 million liters (approximately 2.6 million gallons) a day, The Hindu Business Line reported. It is part of an attempt to serve a city whose four reservoirs have all run dry.
Up until now, water has been transported into the city via some 15,000 tankers a day, more than 9,000 from the city and another 5,000 from private companies, according to The New York Times. People living on the outskirts of the city block roads when the tankers pass out of concern that all the water is being directed towards companies, city residents and hotels, Reuters reported.
Palaniswami spoke to the problem of distribution when he announced the plan to send the trains. He said Chennai Metrowater was inundated with requests for extra supplies from apartment owners.
"We cannot supply water only to the affluent but also need to take care of poor people. Due to the severe shortage, I urge people to use water sparingly," he said, as The Hindu Business Line reported.
The crisis has disrupted daily life, causing some schools to close and prompting some businesses to urge their employees to work from home, Reuters reported.
28-year-old Chennai resident Rushyant Baskar told The New York Times he relies on neighbors to share private tankers or to text him when a city tanker arrives. He said he was sleeping less and his mother did not feel she could take time to visit relatives across town. He said in the past people had come to the city in search of money.
"Now we run after water," he said.
The water shortage is partly due to development and mismanagement, The New York Times explained, as lakes and fields that would have collected rain have been built over. Groundwater is also overused as a primary source of water, rather than a backup.
But it is also made worse by the climate crisis, which is predicted to cause weaker monsoons in South Asia. Southern Tamil Nadu saw below average rainfall the last two years.
Maximum temperatures have also risen in the city by 1.3 degrees Celsius since 1950, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology climate scientist Roxy Mathew Koll told The New York Times. The heat both increases demand for water, and makes it evaporate faster.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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