(Roughly) Daily

“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”*…

Your correspondent has to be away for a few days, so (Roughly) Daily will, for a time, be more roughly than daily… Regular service should resume on or around Thursday, August 10. Meantime, a little reminder of the extraordinary pageant that is life…

Amar Guriro on a community with a unique lifestyle…

… This is the mound of snake charmers, Jogi Daro, which was once situated about one-and-a-half kilometres away from Umerkot city [in Pakistan]. With Umerkot’s population swelling and new housing schemes having popped up to meet demand, Jogi Daro now finds itself part of the city proper.

Each house owns at least one black Indian cobra, but most actually own several snakes, including cobras, kraits and vipers, locally known as Lundi Bala. None of the serpents are defanged but children play with them as if they were toys. [Ustad Misri, snake charmer and chieftain of his tribe] says this is because a certain contract exists between the jogis and the serpents living with them.

“A snake cannot bite a jogi child, and even if it does, it will not harm our child since we administer a drop of snake venom as suti (first food) to our newborns. This establishes immunity against snake poison for their entire life,” claims Ustad Misri.

Jogis or snake charmers are a gypsy community in Sindh. They mostly wander around the entire year from one place to another, either in search of a livelihood or a snake…

The way of the snake: “Rule of the jogi,” from @amarguriro in @Dawn_News.

See also: “How did snakes lose their limbs? Mass genome effort provides clues,” from @ScienceMagazine.

* W. C. Fields


As we ponder partnerships, we might recall that it was on this date in 1769 that the Portolá expedition, a group of Spanish explorers led by Gaspar de Portolá, made the first written record of the tar pits in 1769. Father Juan Crespí wrote:

While crossing the basin, the scouts reported having seen some geysers of tar issuing from the ground like springs; it boils up molten, and the water runs to one side and the tar to the other. The scouts reported that they had come across many of these springs and had seen large swamps of them, enough, they said, to caulk many vessels. We were not so lucky ourselves as to see these tar geysers, much though we wished it; as it was some distance out of the way we were to take, the Governor [Portolá] did not want us to go past them. We christened them Los Volcanes de Brea [the Tar Volcanoes].

(The English name of the site is redundant, as “La Brea” comes from the Spanish word for “tar.”)

While evidence suggests that prehistoric native Americans used and traded the asphalt, the site is now noted for the fossils found there (first by Professor William Denton in 1875). Among the prehistoric Pleistocene species associated with the La Brea Tar Pits are Columbian mammoths, dire wolves, short-faced bears, American lions, ground sloths (predominantly Paramylodon harlani, with much rarer Megalonyx jeffersonii and Nothrotheriops shastensis), coyotes, ancient bison, and the state fossil of California, the saber-toothed cat (Smilodon fatalis)– largely dating from the last glacial period.

La Brea Tar Pits fauna as depicted by Charles R. Knight (source)
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