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19th July 1998

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Junior Times

Front Page
Hello Children,

This week an article about smoking caught my eye. What was so scary about it was that it said that more and more children are beginning to smoke. Although most of you may have not even thought of smoking, its good to be aware of its dangers.

Some of your fathers, uncles and friends may smoke and the sight may not be anything new to you. You might even believe that its quite harmless. But smoking can be very bad for your health. It's dangerous because it's very slow in destroying your immune system. Most smokers end up getting cancer and they find that its too late for medical help.

So as you grow older, someone one day might offer you a cigarette. They'll tell you that its cool to smoke. But keep in mind its much better to have the courage to say No!

Until next week

Aunty Sunshine

To My Mother

You loved me from the start of my life
And you know mom I'll love you till the end of my life
You love me for what I am
You didn't expect me to be what I couldn't.

When I am feeling blue
You always gave me a clue
How to be happy
How to be strong.

Sometimes you scold me
Sometimes you punish me
Sometimes I thought that you don't love me
But now I know you did it because you love me.

You showed me the right path
You taught me how to handle my life
You made lot of changes in my life
For that mom I am thanking you forever.

Chethika Karunaratne,
Ave Maria Convent,

'Reading habit should be developed in school children'

'Reading maketh a full man.' it is a very important and useful statment. Reading will help children in their studies. For example, in our books there are reading lessons and grammar lessons. In small classes we learn to read. It is very important for our studies. Reading will improve children's knowledge. They can learn Economics, Logic, Philosophy, Languages and various subjects. Reading also helps children to know things that happen around the world.

Children lack opportunities to read. They have extra curricular activities after school. So they don't have the time to do their home work as they are tired. Books are also very expensive. That is one reason for the lack of interest in reading. Some children prefer to watch educational programmes on Television.

Dinusha Rathnayake,
K/Kingswood College,

Sri Lanka

On the world map the island hangs like a teardrop over the Indian Ocean. In reality this torpical isle spreads 435 Kms from north to south and at its widest point spreads to 225 kms econmpassing an area of 65,600 sq Kms. The island's unique diversity is seen by the fact that within a few miles of travel by road, the climate, and the environs change, to afford a rewarding experience of diversity within a relatively small area. Sri Lanka's population of little over 18 million comprises of 73.9% Sinhalese, 12.7% Sri Lankan Tamils, 7.5% Sri LankanMoors, 5.5% Indian Tamils and others inclusive of Burghers 0.7%.


The Volcano

A volcano may sleep for a long time. Sometimes centuies with nothig but a faint cloud of somke over the summit. But under the ground the rumbling and booming grow louder. Animals and birds flee, sensing the approaching disaster.

A column of black somke and ashes pour out of the core stones and a stream of molten rock called lava are ejected.

When it cools the lava covers the ground with a coat of rock. Then the mountain goes to sleep again.

Anushka Priyadarshani Samarakkody,
Telijjawila Central College,

Stamp News 25

Featuring our wild life

Some of the most colourful birds and beasts are found in the jungles of Sri Lanka. A number of National Parks maintained by the government have become popular places to see and enjoy wild life. The oldest and the most popular of these is the Ruhunu National Park situated in the south east coast of Sri Lanka and is popularly known as Yala Park. Wilpattu in the north centre of the country is almost twice as large as Yala but is closed for visitors due to the present war situation.

The country's wild life was the subject of four stamps issued on May 11, 1970. The four definitive stamps depicted four animals - slender loris, spotted or axis deer, wild buffalo and leopard.

The slender loris (Unahapuluwa in Sinhala) featured in the 15 cent stamp is a strictly tree living mammal which, because of its nocturnal habits, is seldom seen in day-time. One of the four varieties of monkeys in Sri Lanka, it feeds largely on insects and occasionally on small birds and ripe berries. It is distributed throughout the island.

The 50 cent stamp features the spotted deer (Tith Muwa), considered the most beautiful deer in the whole world with white pearly spots standing out vividly on glossy brown fur. It is found throughout the dry zone. It needs protection because it is avidly sought after for its flesh. The white form of the animal seen on the stamp is an uncommon mutation caught by the cameraman in one of the national parks. Spotted deer feed entirely on grasses, foliage and fallen ripe fruit. The males bear antlers which are shed annually.

The leopard (Kotiya) seen on the Rs. 1 stamp is the prince among Sri Lankan mammals being the largest representative of the cat family in the country. It is widely distributed from the highest elevations to the hottest dry zone forests. On account of the demand for its skin especially in the foreign markets, the leopard is the victim of organised poaching. The leopard is carnivorous and partly arboreal. Its sense of hearing is said to be well developed but depends more on eye sight when hunting. Its sense of smell is said to be very poor.

The Rs. 5 stamp features the wild buffalo (Kulu Meema), a formidable animal unpredictable when it is met in the jungle. The true wild form is rare today due to promiscuous breeding with domesticated buffaloes which stray into their midst. The animal is protected to a great extent wherever it is found by the imposition of laws, which carry severe penalties for their infringement.

Wild life is protected in Sri Lanka by allocating specified areas for fauna and flora and by the enforcement of laws through legislative enactments.

The Wild Life Protection Society, a voluntary organisation is actively engaged in the conservation of forests and protection of wild life in the country. The century old Society has developed from the original Ceylon Game Protection Society which only had a handful of members unlike the Wild Life Society which boasts of a very large membership.

Nature WatchWhat is an arthropod?

The arthropods are invertebrates that have jointed legs and usually a hard outer skeleton. The name Arthropoda comes from the Greek arthron, meaning joint, and podos, foot. More species of arthropods have been described than all other kinds of animals put together. In fact, over 75 per cent of the known animals, both vertebrate and invertebrate, belong to the phylum Arthropoda, and of these a further 75 per cent are insects.

The major classes of arthropods are the Crustacea, including crayfish, lobsters, shrimps, crabs, water-fleas, woodlice and barnacles; the Chilopoda or centipedes; the Diplopoda or millipedes; the Arachnida, including spiders, harvestmen, scorpions, mites and ticks; and the Insecta, including dragonflies, mayflies, grasshoppers, cockroaches, butterflies, bees, wasps, ants, flies and beetles. The insects are the largest class and they contain about 750,000 species, followed by the arachnids with about 60,000 species and the centipedes and millipedes together, a mere 11,000 species.

Missing link

Arthropods have evolved from marine segmented worms. The animal that comes closer than any other to being the "missing link" between the worms and the arthropods is Peripatus, the sole representative of the phylum Onychophora. Peripatus is a many-legged caterpillar-like creature about eight centimetres in length which is found mainly in the Southern Hemisphere. It is usually nocturnal and likes moist places under logs in tropical forests.

The Arthropoda are a very ancient group of animals. At the beginning of the Cambrian Period (500 million years ago) there were three well-established classes: trilobites, crustaceans and arachnids. The dominant class was the trilobites which make up over half the fossils known from this period and are the most important group of fossil arthropods. They were at their most numerous in the Ordovician Period (400 million years ago), but finally died out in the Permian (220 million years ago). Their decline and final extinction was probably brought about by the giant Ordovician cephalopods (squids and octopuses) and the Devonian fishes, 320 million years ago. The name trilobite refers to the fact that the dorsal surface of the body is divided into three lobes. The trilobites probably gave rise to no other arthropod groups, but they seem to be most closely related to the Crustacea.


Ancestors of the more primitive crustaceans, like the fairy-shrimps, are well represented in lower Cambrian rocks, but the larger crustaceans, such as lobsters and crabs, do not appear until Jurassic times (150 million years ago).

Eurypterus, a fossil arachnid and the ancestor of the present-day horse-shoe or king-crabs, Limulus, occurred in the sea from the Cambrian to Permian Periods, that is from 500 to 220 million years ago. Limulus itself has changed little since Triassic times (190 million years ago). Eurypterus is the largest known arthropod and at its peak of development it attained a length of three metres.

Although 750,000 species of living insects have been described, only a few thousand fossil species have been found. Many of these were preserved in accumulations of dripping resin over long periods. The resin eventually became fossilized into amber, thus preserving the insect or spider. All of the early insects are now extinct.

The arthropod body-plan is a specialization of the segmented body-plan of annelid worms. The outer layer, or cuticle, serves as a protective armour. Biting jaws, piercing beaks, grinding surfaces, sound-producing organs, walking legs, pincers, wings and many other structures, are made from the cuticle. It is due partly to this hard cuticle that the arthropods have been so very successful. This hard surface is called an exoskeleton, and it is to this that arthropods owe their ability to live on land, for it provides a relatively impermeable outer covering to prevent drying of the watery tissues within, and also provides a rigid framework to support the soft tissues. This exoskeleton enables arthropods to exploit the land with practically no serious competition from the other invertebrate groups, most of which are largely aquatic.

There is no doubt that the arthropods are the most successful of all the animal groups. They have the largest number of species and individuals, and occupy the widest stretches of territory and the greatest variety of habitats. In the oceans, minute crustaceans form the major part of the food chains of whales and the larger fishes. Some arthropods are beneficial to man: crabs and lobsters providing food; bees providing honey, and silkworms (the larvae of silkmoths) providing silk. Others do untold damage, destroying crops, undermining wooden buildings, and transmitting diseases. Where they do not exclude him altogether, arthropods are man's chief competitor for food and shelter.

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