吗哪

by xw

由 xw » 5月 02 2012
读蚁笔记:tamarisk manna scale, ant-shepherd

读蚂蚁书,蚂蚁农牧业社会,无意中读到吗哪,真是意想不到的收获。这样我又操
起笔来乱涂鸦一贴,也是回馈林子里有人会跟我讨论。其实硬着头皮读书不成,带
着问题读书,总能读出些眉目,但又过于目的性,丧失了阅读的趣味。我读过一本
小册子说是学习的各种方式,视听说嗅触尝,对比列表讨论实践等等,还没提到写
与画。单纯学识未必能激励人们写与画,或说或唱也行,得要有能激发人的灵感才
行。

读到吗哪,我就打住了,觉得手痒痒的。以前以为吗哪是柽柳(Tamarisk)的一种分
泌,又有犹太教朋友跟我说过是鸟粪。人走到极端了吃点鸟粪也不是不可以,不说
战争年代就是和平饥荒年代,什么东西有营养不是逮到就吃,更何况各民族或先民
保留下不少吃食的陈习,未必荒诞。听到有人说吗哪与昆虫的关系,昆虫世界太复
杂,也从未仔细。

圣经《约书亚记》五12 :他们吃了那地的出产,第二日吗哪就止住了,以色列人也
不再有吗哪了。那一年,他们却吃迦南地的出产。《民数记》十一7~9 :这吗哪彷
佛芫荽子,又好象珍珠。百姓周围行走,把吗哪收起来,或用磨推,或用臼捣,煮
在锅中,又做成饼,滋味好象新油。夜间露水降在营中,吗哪也随着降下。

40年的旷野生活中,犹太人之所以能够生存下来,被史学家认定是一件不可思议。
其中的关键因素之一,就是随露而降的吗哪了。吗哪出现于出埃及第二个月的15日,
万军之耶和华的军队--以色列百姓来到旷野。当时,他们所带出来的粮食已经用
罄,三餐所需不知从何而来,此时民众的信心已不再如初过红海一般,能唱、能跳,
充满感恩之心了,取而代之的是不信的态度和满腹的怨怼,并以卑劣的口气责问摩
西和亚伦:“巴不得我们早死在埃及地、耶和华的手下;那时我们坐在肉锅旁边,吃
得饱足。你们将我们领出来,到这旷野,是要叫这全会众都饿死啊!”

耶和华对摩西说:“我要将粮食从天降给你们。百姓可以出去,每天收每天的分,我
好试验他们遵不遵我的法度。”(出埃及记十六1~4)

这是吗哪的由来,或说出现,是在百姓出埃及后第二个月的15日,耶和华开始降吗
哪给他们吃,从那一天开始,以色列民一连吃了40年的天粮,从来不间断。除了固
定于安息日停降一日,让百姓遵守安息之外,他们就靠着这天上而来的粮食度过漫
漫旷野路。

关于吗哪的具体,世上争论大凡有两方,教派以为圣迹,而科学/学者派一般归之于
柽柳树的分泌物或者柽柳树虫的分泌/排泄物等等。鸟粪的说法恐怕是犹太人自嘲,
现在文明精细了,天降甘露变成了虫粪,当然虫粪未必就臭秽。人类文化有过强的
分辨心,但自相矛盾的地方很不少。记得是谁说过世界上有两样东西最脏:一政坛,
一阴道,然而人人要朝里头钻。按人种学家蒙田的意思,诞生人的阴道既不耻亦不
污秽。我还看到过动物园的大猩猩独爱捞食自己肛门上的积盐味。

蚂蚁农牧业,农业以植叶培养真菌为主,牧业就更广泛了,但大抵是放牧蚜虫,还
有各式各样的昆虫,以挤食其排泄出来的糖蜜。因为虫吃树叶树汁,淀粉含量大,转
身化成糖,不自觉地排泄出来。不说难听说,其实蜜蜂采的蜜一大半也是此类陈泄物
。当然此中便有一种与柽柳树虫有关的Manna,树虫Aphid nymph芳名Trabutina
mannipara(种名'供吗哪',tamarisk manna scale):

The honeydew yielded by the homopterous insects is a bounty easily
available to the ants wherever they can crawl up onto vegetation or
search beneath it. Much of the material is simply discarded as ordinary
waste. But whether used or not, the output by homopterous insects
around the world is prodigious. Aphids in the genus Tuberolachnus excrete
approximately 7 droplets in an hour, an amount which exceeds their own
body weight. Sometimes the honey dew accumulates in large enough
quantities to be usable even by human beings. The manna "given" to
the Israelites in the Old Testament account was almost certainly the
excretion of the scale insect Trabutina mannipara, which feeds on
tamarisk. The Arabs still gather the material, which they call man. In
Australia, chermid honeydew, or sugar-lerp, is collected as food by the
Aborigines. Up to 3 pounds can be collected by one person in a single
day. It is a fact not widely appreciated that most honey consumed by
people around the world is honeydew collected by bees from the surfaces
of bushes and trees. One of our favorite foods is insect excrement
processed in the gut of other insects. Not surprisingly, then, ants also
gather honeydew of all kinds, in large quantities and under a wide range
of circumstances. Many, perhaps most, species collect it from the
ground and vegetation wherever the liquids happens to fall. But it is
only a short step in evolution for the ants to solicit the honey dew
directly from the homopterans themselves.

Journey to the Ants - Bert Hölldobler & Edward O. Wilson

A "weaving ant" gathers a natural sweet which was excreted by the aphid
Trabutina on a thin stem of Tamarix nilotica at Enot Tzukim
2013-08-21 17:52:11

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