Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Last week I was camping in the White Mountains. Despite some rainy (and downright stormy) weather we managed to get some pretty stellar hiking in. I learned a couple things in my attempts to turn some of my experience into posts for the Network. First, I am terrible at shooting mountains. I'm sure I can learn but my familiarity with the very small and my lack of experience shooting them made it a somewhat fruitless attempt. The shot above represents the best of probably about 20 shots and still it doesn't capture the experience of being there in the mountains.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Another local species! And an arthropod to boot! How lucky you are!
This is the caterpillar of the monarch butterfly, known for its relatively long migrations across parts of North and
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Atlantic ribbed mussel is a common mussel species found on much of the shoreline of the eastern
Mussels are bivalves (meaning two shells) which are a family of mollusks. This puts them into relationship with snails, octopuses, squids and cuttlefish (in addition to a few other smaller families). Like all other bivalves (clams, oysters) these ribbed mussels have a muscular “foot” with which they are capable of crawling through the sediment. They typically will remain in one spot, however, unless their ecosystem changes drastically enough.
In fact mussels have the habit of holding themselves fast to stable objects such as grasses, rocks, other bivalves as well as docks and other man-made objects. They do this with something called “byssal” or “byssus” threads, strong, sticky threadlike structures secreted from their foot. This is what keeps mussel “clumps” held together and is both a strategy for keeping safe from predators (their shells aren’t as thick and hard as their cousins the clams) as well as for preventing themselves from being swept away by waves and tides. This also puts them in a mutualistic (symbiotic) relationship with marsh grass. The grass provides the mussel with an anchor to attach to and the mussels provide fertilizer in the form of waste products.
These mussels are typically found in marshy areas with just their very tops poking out of the mud. I found these in West Dennis on
This is a hilarious quote from the
Edible yes. Pleasant, no.
The Assateague Naturalist: http://www.assateague.com/ribbed-m.html
The EOL: http://www.eol.org/pages/449853
The Chesapeake Bay Field Guide: http://www.edc.uri.edu/restoration/html/gallery/invert/ribbed.htm
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The exhibit is fantastic and has all the elements of a great children’s museum play space. It’s outdoors, which is awesome, and contains weatherproof costumes of different animals such as a spotted salamander. There’s also music involved in the form of an underground marimba.
As always the artwork is phenomenal. Here’re a couple examples:
a star nosed mole!
But the best part? Latin names!
This really made my day and represents a philosophy that I share that it’s never too early to introduce folks to real hard science. Even if they don’t really understand what those funny words mean they are getting primed just by seeing them. Later in life many enthusiastic PCM players will still have those fond memories of playing in Underland and reading those Latin words. Not only will they be more ready to understand their real meaning, having been exposed to them early, but this will bring them back to what can only be a magical and fun experience: playing at the PCM. I can only imagine that will help to fill science learning later in life with memories of play and exploration. Just fantastic.
Look forward to a couple of new posts about local fauna.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Yesterday morning, as I got my bike out to ride to work, I came upon this snake lounging on the stone steps coming down from our back yard. I didn’t have time to leisurely shoot this reptile because, well, I had to get to work, so the pictures aren’t amazing. But at least I documented another vertebrate. I think that’s two!
So T. sirtalis sirtalis, the Eastern Garter Snake is a subspecies of the Common Garter Snake. The term subspecies gets a little hard to define (considering species is hard to define) but it’s basically another distinction under species. There’s not a whole lot to say about them: they’re little snakes that live in most parts of the
One somewhat interesting thing about these snakes is that they give live birth. This is called viviparity and when I was in grad school I found that there’s actually a whole lot of squamate reptiles (snakes and lizards) that do this. I think a lot of people assume that mammals are the only ones who give live birth but sharks and reptiles also employ this strategy. It’s evolved a good number of times over the last few hundred million years.