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Featured Article: Heteromyidae

Dipodomys nitratoides
Heteromyidae is the family of rodents that includes the kangaroo rats, kangaroo mice, and pocket mice. Heteromyids are characterized by external, fur-lined cheek pouches (like the related pocket gophers, family Geomyidae), short and rounded ears, relatively large eyes, and seed-eating behavior. The kangaroo rats (genus Dipodomys) and kangaroo mice (genus Microdipodops) use bipedal locomotion on elongated hind limbs (like kangaroos), while the pocket mice (genera Perognatus, Chaetodipus, Heteromys, and Liomys) use quadrupedal locomotion (like mice). The 6 extant genera and about 60 species of heteromyids occupy a similar range as the Geomyidae, being distributed from Western and Central Canada and the United States, through Mexico and Central America, to the northern tip of South America.

Heteromyids play important ecological roles in terms of seed dispersal and as part of food chains, being preyed upon by owls, snakes, coyotes, and other predators. The burrows of kangaroo rats provide habitat for other animals and for plant growth. In many ecosystems, heteromyids are considered keystone species. For humans, the joy of nature is enhanced by sightings of heteromyids at night (they are nocturnal), with the kangaroo rats and mice being especially unique with their long jumps, long and beautiful tails, and, for some species, a special defense against snakes that actually has them first approaching closely, then jumping back, and drumming with their feet.

Popular Article: Akbar the Great

Jalauddin Akbar
Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbár, also known as Akbar the Great, (October 15, 1542 – October 27, 1605) was the ruler of the Moghul Empire from the time of his accession in 1556 until 1605. He is considered the greatest of the Moghul emperors in terms of his military conquests. He engaged in military campaigns that caused the deaths of thousands, but within his empire he tried to rule justly and bridge cultural and religious barriers between its different peoples. He was a patron of learning and of the arts.

Akbar is best known for his vision of empire as an interfaith community—a view quite exceptional for his time. Although a pious Muslim, he believed that truth underlies all religions and pioneered inter-religious collaboration through his discussions with religious scholars, his promotion of the unity of religious truth, and through his own inter-cultural marriages. Although his policies clearly had pragmatic benefits in attracting the loyalty of non-Muslims, Akbar's personal commitment to unity appears to have been genuine. Unfortunately, his enlightened policies were short-lived, to be reversed by his successor Aurangzeb. Nevertheless they merit him the title "the Great."