Corn is planted and harvested
in nearly all the Earth's farmland that is suitable
for agriculture. But it was not always so. Until 500
years ago, its use was limited to what we now know
as the Americas, from Chile to Canada.
Its global popularity began
when the first Europeans learned of its existence.
The explorers spoke of ''a kind of grain, called 'maize,'
that tastes good cooked, dried or ground into flour''.
The cultivation of this
plant, from the 'gramineae' family, originated
thousands of years ago in the area that is now Mexico
and Central America. The oldest vestiges of corn production
found in the region are some 7,000 years old. It is
here that the word ''maize'' was born, meaning ''sustenance
Corn served as the basis of the
diet, and even the culture, of the ancient civilizations
of the Americas.
Across the Western Hemisphere,
it is known by different names: corn, maíz, choclo,
jojoto, milho, and elote, for example. There are six
basic types of corn: dentate, hard, soft (or grainy),
sweet, popcorn and sheathed.
Beyond its virtues as a food
(where it demonstrates an incredibly capacity to transform
itself into flour, pasta, etc.) maize holds other
surprises: it is used as the basic ingredient for
some industrial processes, such as the production
of starch, oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, sweeteners,
Reflecting its importance for
humanity, the Internet holds seemingly infinite references
to corn. There are hundreds of recipes from a wide
range of cultures, and numerous
sites that explain its uses, or inform us of its
And if you combine the word ''corn''
or ''maize'' with the term ''transgenic'' in just
about any Internet search engine, you'll enter one
of the hot debates of today: whether humanity should
be producing genetically modified corn, as the consequences
for the environment and human health are still relatively
Maize in Human Nutrition
Cooperation in Genetics
Watch Corn Grow!
of a Coleopteron
Beetles inhabit nearly the entire
planet. They have one important thing in common: the
hard wing shell that gives them their armored appearance.
But beyond that, beetles are one of the most diverse
families that exist. One other thing they share is
their ''official'' name: they belong to the order
''The beetles are the largest
order including more species known to science than
any other order not only in the Class of Insecta,
but also in the entire animal kingdom (Animalia)...
beetles constitute more than a quarter of all known
animals,'' reports a website based in St.
Since ancient times beetles have
formed a part of human culture. People have studied
them and copied them in forming mythology, adornments
and even fairytales. Even old Aesop
used them in his fables.
Some beetles are famous for their
incandescent colors, others for the extraordinary
designs that adorn their wings. Some stand out
because of their strength, and others due to their
ability to survive, often for years, in the most adverse
One Internet site affirms there
are 140 to 173 different species. Their diversity
is evident, for example, in size: there are some that
measure just 25 millimeters and others that reach
more than 10 centimeters.
Their omnipresence on Earth even
includes the Internet, where beetles are the stars
games, or simply the theme of unassuming directories.
Fables: The eagle, the hare and the beetle
games, 3-D, etc.
info and photos
of beetle sites
Bug Page: Beetles
To find this unique animal on
the Internet, try using some of the different names
people have given them: armadillo, mulita, quirquincho,
tatú, cachicamo. These words are used in different
countries and regions to describe one of the strangest
inhabitants of the Americas: an armored mammal.
From the scientific point of
view, it has another designation: it forms part of
the Edentata order and the Dasypodidae
family. There are more than 20 different armadillo
species living at different latitudes of North and
South America, and exhibiting different habits, though
all share the characteristic shell, which is made
of a bone and horn.
Armadillos or quirquinchos inhabited
South America some 50 million years ago. There are
numerous fossil remains that indicate their presence,
as well as their now-extinct relatives, like the glyptodont.
The animal's strange appearance amazed the first Europeans
who saw them, but the armadillo had by then had already
enriched the knowledge of indigenous peoples.
This mammal is somewhat elusive.
But it is easy to detect them in our culture: in tales
and legends from places such as Peru,
The shell of the quirquincho has been used to create
a stringed instrument originating in Bolivia. And
in some areas, this species is considered a delicious
Today, different armadillo species
can be found from southern Chile to the lower half
of the United States. Their presence in North America
dates back to the mid-1800s, and in some places, such
as Texas, they are so abundant that many people consider
them a plague.
But in other regions there are
armadillo species that are on the verge of extinction,
whether from over-hunting or from the destruction
of their habitat. That is the problem facing the giant
armadillo of Brazil.
World of the Armadillo
invade the United States
Oceans and seas represent an
endless mystery. Their waters cover most of the planet
and provide 99
percent of the inhabitable space for living beings
- in other words, plants and animals - in a world
that we, perhaps ironically, call 'Earth.'
On Earth, or land, coastlines
represent a frontier to the great beyond that is only
partially known, where deep-sea explorations pose
as many challenges as those of outer space as humans
seek knowledge and opportunity. Science assures us
that life first formed in the oceans, and some visionaries
believe it is in the oceans that we will find the
key to humanity's future - for starters, as a provider
Oceans are usually associated
with enormity, given their dimensions and the stunning
biodiversity they hold in their saline waters. Nevertheless,
they face grave threats. Their chief enemies are pollution
and over-exploitation through activities that originate
The relationship of our civilization
with the oceans is marked by their unavoidable presence
in our lives, the center of numerous human activities,
and of many cultures, vocabularies and adventures.
And now also because of the initiatives to defend
the quality of the environment.
The planet, according to human
geography, has three oceans and 18
seas, each with a regionally defined vocation.
''The sea unites nations instead of dividing them,''
affirms the executive director of the United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP), Klaus Topfer, referring
to the need to work
together to prevent their degradation.
Those who want to navigate the
oceans, but via the Internet, can embark on an adventure
through the following websites,
surfing the fascinating world of water and learning
about the urgent need to prevent its destruction.
Planet, Smithsonian Institute
Oceanography Commission, UNESCO
Year of the Ocean - 1998
Seas, United Nations Environment Program
Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine
Oceans as Seen from Space
Pilot (directory), UNESCO