The Akwa Ibom State government has warned its citizens against consuming cow skins. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Godwin Afangideh, said at a press conference on Sunday in Uyo, the state capital, that the cow skin, often referred to as Ikpa Ebola or Ponmo had being the common cause of cancer and liver problems in the state.

The commissioner, who was represented at the briefing by the Director of Veterinary Services in the state, Dr. Obot Obot, said that the people who patronised cow skin were both exposed to cancer and liver problems as well as diarrhoea and hypertension, due to the high quantity of salt used for its preservation.

He stated that the government had embarked on sensitisation programme to create awareness on the danger of consuming cow skin meat. He said, “The state government, through the veterinary services directorate of the ministry, has embarked on a sensitisation campaign in some markets in the local government areas to talk to the people about the danger of consuming such meat.

“The veterinary officer, who was in charge of the sensitisation campaign, went to different markets and talked to the people on the imperatives of how to watch out for toxic meat following reports of its importation into the country.

“Cow skin meat, which is five times thicker than ordinary skin meat, is injected with a toxic substance called formalin used for its preservation. This formalin in the long run is capable of causing cancer and liver problems due to high concentration of salt used for their preservation.”

A reason for ancient plankton to be very afraid

A huge arthropod that lived 480 million years ago used spines on its head to filter seawater and to trap tiny particles of food. The lobsterlike animal, six feet long, is one of the earliest giant filter-feeders ever discovered, scientists reported in Nature. “It implies there was a rich source of plankton at the time, upon which these things may have fed,” said Derek Briggs, a paleontologist at Yale University and one of the study’s authors.

Briggs and his colleagues discovered the fossil remains of the new species, named Aegirocassis benmoulae, in Morocco. It belongs to an extinct family of marine animals called anomalocaridids, which first appeared during the Cambrian period 520 million years ago. Aegirocassis had double flaps along the side of its body, rather than the single flaps seen in previous anomalocaridid fossils. The bottom flaps may have helped Aegirocassis swim, while the top set of flaps may have been used for stabilization, Briggs said.

The fossil remains are three-dimensional and very well preserved. Almost all previous anomalocaridid fossils were flat. “We think it is because these things were buried quite rapidly by a storm or other event on the seafloor,” Briggs said.

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