Do you have a favorite footrest in your home? Putting one’s feet up is so relaxing and relieving. The cushioniest footrest in my house is the one that came with a comfy chair. Simple, functional, the perfect height, very practical.
My favorite footrest is covered with a needlepoint I stitched many decades ago. I was living in Michigan, so the Canada Goose theme was appropriate . . . as is the snow. Lots of snow in the lake-effect region of Southern Michigan. I could cross-country ski right out of my garage. I don’t miss the snow now that I’m here in the Sonoran Desert. Snow here is just wrong to me.
My most recent footrest comes to me while I am writing at the table. I don’t even have to pick my feet up – she walks right under me. She stops, not minding that my feet are resting on her shell. In fact, I think it’s her way of making contact.
I learned a new term today. It’s not a word to be used in daily conversation but interesting, nonetheless. The new term is saurophagy. Its means “the eating of lizards.”
I was a little sad to learn this word in a report about one iguana species, C. similis, eating its cousin,C. bakeri. Normally herbivores, iguanas can be opportunistic consumers. C. similisseem to take the opportunity to eat the hatchling C. bakeri heading to the mangroves.
Like most people with access to the Internet, the first thing I did was search saurophagy. It’s apparently a well-kept secret. Google offered me autophagy which is very different. Autophagy is the destruction of cells during normal physiological cycles.
It took a while to find anything on saurophagy. Most of what I found was lizards-eating-lizards research, which makes sense in places with high numbers of lizards. But of course, lizards have many predators. Those predators are usually just called carnivores, nothing fancy like saurophagy.
Saurophagy is a fun word to know. You just might need it someday for a trivia contest or Scrabble game. And don’t forget, there’s autophagy, too.
To learn more about iguanas, check out this wonderful downloadable resource at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. Nothing about saurophagy in it, but lots of other information about iguanas and wonderful activity sheets. Full description below.
Howdy, friends! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! You know how I LOVE to bask in the sun? Well, I’ve recently learned that some of my friends go underground when it gets cold—to stay warm!
My human friend, Elaine, wrote here at Tales & Tails that round-tailed ground squirrels spend the winter underground to stay warm. Yes, it gets cold in Southern Arizona during the winter, unlike the warm tropical weather of the Exumas, where I live. But ground squirrels don’t actually hibernate like some other mammals do—they go into a state of torpor.
Both the state of torpor and hibernation are means for mammals to survive cold temperatures, conserving energy due to low food availability. Hibernation and torpor both involve lowering body temperatures and breathing, heart, and metabolic rates. What’s the difference between them? It’s all in the planning. Animals that hibernate plan for it. They store fat in advance and stay in the quiet state for as long as possible. When the warm temperatures finally arrive, the animals take a while to wake-up, using up a lot of their energy reserves.
Torpor happens involuntarily and only lasts for short periods. It’s like a deep sleep. Waking up takes less time and involves violent shaking from muscle contractions. I call that shivering.
As scientists have learned more about hibernation, the definition has changed. Animals once believed to be hibernating were in fact in the state of torpor. Today, the term hibernation includes true hibernators and those asleep in torpor.
Here’s a fellow desert-dweller of Elaine’s, that hibernates during the cold winters.
Another interesting state is aestivation, which is an entirely different topic, in my estimation. Do you like my word play? Aestivation and estimation? I think Elaine should explain what aestivation is and use my rhyme in one of her books—with credit, of course!
For information about a desert dweller that goes into torpor–not hibernation–the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake–check out the 46-page workbook and activity sheets at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. It’s educational, but it’s full of fun activities. Elaine always says, “Learning should be fun! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”
Or, a perennial favorite is the rhyming, thrillingly illustrated Don’t Make Me Rattle! People fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why they should be respected, not exterminated.
Today, I wanted to ask you if you knew that Green Iguanas, Iguana iguana, come in different colors? And, if they come in different colors, how do you tell if a lizard is a green iguana?
You look for the subtympanic scale. “What is that?” you ask. Well, I don’t have one, so I had to look it up myself. The subtympanic scale is that large scale on the side of the green iguana’s head. Sub means below and tympanic means ear. So, it’s the big scale below the ear. I have a friend who calls that scale the “jewel.” She always admires the beautiful coloring in the iguana jewels.
Here are some of my green iguana friends, in very different colors. As you can see, they are not just green–but they are all still called “green.” Even the green green iguanas come in different shades of green. It can be confusing, if you ask me.
The native range of the green iguana is southern Mexico to central Brazil and several Caribbean islands. If you don’t live in those areas, why should you know how to identify a green iguana? Because they’re very popular as pets in people’s homes and they have been introduced to many other places in the world, where they don’t belong and can be causing harm. That means they’re “invasive.”
If you enjoy learning while coloring and doing activities, I encourage you to be creative. To learn more in fun ways about iguanas, please see our 30-page workbook full of activity sheets about iguanas, My Unit Study on Iguanas. Remember that the green iguanas you color, don’t have to be green!
Hello to all my friends out there! I hope you are taking care of yourselves and each other in these difficult times. I’m looking forward to the day when my human friends don’t have to worry anymore about the virus called Covid-19! (If I could, I would banish it right now!) Until this passes, please take good care out there.
I love having made so many friends through my sidekick, Elaine A. Powers, and today I’d like to introduce you to Zoe, a Sonoran Desert tortoise. She’s a female who knows her territory and stands her ground. (I just love that in a tortoise!)
I don’t want to tell Zoe she’ll never be the star I am, of course, but take a look at my You Tube channelon your small screen at this beauty in her habitat and learn about what it takes to be a tortoise in the Sonoran Desert.
I started out my biology career wanting to be a marine biologist. Even though I ended up as a laboratory researcher, I’m always looking for interesting creatures when I visit the ocean. I never know who I’m going to write about in my next fun science book!
One group of animals I always enjoy seeing are starfish. They come in different shapes and colors. Starfish are echinoderms, a diverse family of marine invertebrates. They are found in all oceans and none of them can live in freshwater. Of course, starfish are not fish; the name comes from their star-like shape. Starfish usually have five arms but some have up to 40 arms!
One thing all starfish have in common is their radial symmetry. Their body can be divided into five equal parts. Amazing. Don’t worry that they’ll become asymmetrical if a predator bites off an arm–starfish have the ability to regenerate their arms.
Starfish themselves are carnivores. Their mouths are located on the underside of their bodies (the anus is on the top side). Interestingly, a starfish has two stomachs, one of which can be pushed outside the body to allow it to swallow the large prey that can’t fit in its small mouth.
I like playing with the multitude of starfish feet–feeling the tube feet crawl on my hand. The feet are used for moving, of course, but also for catching prey. While the feet are moving the starfish, its bony skeleton with its spikes and thorns provides protection from above. Which is a good thing, because starfish have lots of predators.
These are some of the beautiful starfish I have encountered.
Someday, I might write a book about starfish. For now, I’ll just have to know they run into the sea turtles you’ll see pictured in the book below that I wrote about the Hickatee turtle. It teaches the physical traits and differences between the land-dwelling Hickatee and the ocean-dwelling sea turtles.
Or, learn all about another fellow ocean feeder, in this Lyric Power Publishing workbook full of activity sheets about the Brown Booby–the large seabirds who live on only one island in the world.
Geology is the science that explores the earth’s physical structure and substance, its history, and the processes that act on it. Geology is often included under the topic of Earth Sciences. You might be surprised to learn that I often include geology in my fun science books that feature lizards. You can’t really study biology without knowing the geology of the ecosystem.Everything is interconnected.
One of my favorite inclusions in The Dragon of Nani Cave in the mineral, caymanite.
Hidden in the limestone karst of Grand Cayman’s East End and the Bluff of Cayman Brac is an uncommon variety of dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. Caymanite is prized for its layers of earth tone colors, which are the result of different metal contents. Its harness allows for it to be shaped into jewelry and carvings.
InThe Dragon of Nani Cave, the Lime Lizard Ladsare sent on a quest to find a piece of caymanite for Old Soldier crab. It’s the most dangerous thing a lizard can do on Cayman Brac, because that’s where the dragon lives! One of the fun things about being an author is having a say in the design of the book cover. I had mine when I asked that the book title be colored just like caymanite.
When I lived in the Midwest and Northeast, I knew it was Spring when the crocus and daffodils raised their heads from the ground. Here in the Sonoran Desert, I know it is Spring when the round-tailed ground squirrels, Xerospermophilus tereticaudus, which dwell in the desert of the US Southwest and northwestern Mexico, raise their heads from the ground.
name for these small mammals is derived from their long round tail and long
fluffy hind feet. I think they look like small prairie dogs due to their
uniform sandy color.
Instead of running up and down large, lush trees found in the more temperate areas of the country, these squirrels burrow into ground beneath mesquite trees andcreosote bushes, plants tough enough to survive the harsh desert clime. They are active during hot summer days and stay underground during the winter, but they don’t hibernate.
people find the squirrels a bother because they are always digging holes in
their yards, driveways and even streets. I think they make a new tunnel each
day. I like to think of their efforts as aerating the soil and loosening the
rock-hard ground. Going underground, they are able to evade their many
predators: coyotes, badgers, hawks and snakes.
though they live in colonies, ground squirrels like their space. Males like to
be in charge during mating season, but the mothers dominate when they have
Why am I
writing about these delightful squirrels? I am starting to work on a picture
book about the local ground squirrels. This book was requested by an educator
at a local park. There are no books about area ground squirrels. Another fun,
science book waiting to be written in rhyme! Gosh, I love my work!
to get back now to my burrowing into the world of ground squirrels.
Thanks for visiting!
I’ve written many books about reptiles, and am excited about adding mammals to my book collection. Here is a workbook on mammalsfrom my publisher, Lyric Power Publishing, LLC, focused on making science fun. Their activity sheets and workbooks really help to pass the time in a fun way.
The mission of my book publisher, Lyric Power Publishing LLC, is to “Make Science Fun!” That’s because they know how fun science really is.
Their Activity Sheets and Workbooks are for Ages K-5 (see workbook covers for grade level and contents) and while they are highly educational, they are also lots of fun!Have you ever counted iguanas? Or made a lizard clock? Made your own Compass Rose or Passport?
Depending on the grade, they can include: Animal Facts, Name the Animal, Lifecycles, Compare Traits, Food Chains, Label the Parts, Color by Math, Mean/Median/Mode/Range, Color by Number, Printing, Underline the Answer, Counting, Convert Grams to Pounds, Fill in the Blanks, True or False, Cut Along the Dotted Lines, Cut and Paste, Cut and Classify, Fill in the Right Word, Word Search, Match the Facts, Using a Histogram, Venn Diagrams, Making Charts, Interpreting Charts, Crossword Puzzle, Other Puzzles, Conservation, Vocabulary, Complete the Sentence, Unscramble the Sentences, Prepositions of Place, Using Maps, Writing Prompts, Essay Writing Exercise, Reading Comprehension, and More!
Who can make all the above fun, economically? Lyric Power Publishing! Purchase a Download Once and Print as Many Times as You’d Like!
For additional relaxing fun, check out their Coloring Books and Flannel Board Templates, enjoyed by children and adults alike. Coloring is handwork and creative, proven to reduce stress. Let your creativity run wild! Get out your colored pencils or crayons and have some fun today! Then print the pages again and color them in a whole new assortment!
In a previous blog, I related a story how even in my early years, I was working to keep wild alligators away from people food with stale, very hard, marshmallows. This occurred on Sanibel Island, FL.
Have you ever thought about where marshmallows come from? My marshmallow story took place on Sanibel Island, FL, where you can find the marsh mallow growing. Yes, the marsh mallow is a plant. I learned about it while I was working at the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. On Sanibel the species is called Kosteletzkya virginica.
Did you think marshmallows were merely fluffy sugar? Well,
they’re not. Marshmallows have been around since ancient Egypt. They used the
mallow, Althaea officinalis, which
grew in salty marshes. The sweet sap was made into a candy that was dedicated
to their gods.
The ancient Greeks valued the medicinal properties of the
mallow. Many cultures have used mallow to treat wounds, inflammation,
toothaches and sore throats.
In the 1800s, the French created a candy for adult consumption, in addition to its previous medicinal uses. The mallow sap was whipped with egg whites and corn syrup into an easily moldable substance and the modern marshmallow was created. The next time you enjoy a marshmallow, think of the plant from which it came: the mallow growing in salty marshes.
NOTE: Every now and then, I divert from writing about animals to do a bit of plant investigation. To see some of my work on plants, check out The Queen of the Nightabout the fascinating Night-Blooming Cereus, plants that bloom magnificently only one night per year—and they wait for each other to bloom all at the same time.EAP
Last February, I had the honor of giving a science talk at a local bar. Yes, a bar! But it’s a very different bar–it specializes in astronomy and holds weekly science trivia contests with March for Science Southern Arizona.
My talk was about using entertaining children’s books in science education. It was kind of fun that I had multi-colored spotlights instead of plain white. I spoke from a platform and looking down and around the room, I wondered if my talk was appropriate for such an audience. I couldn’t gesticulate as I usually do, because I had to hold the microphone to my mouth (eat the mic) and the slide clicker in the other hand. I felt constrained, but carried on with my assignment.
Even though I watched people drinking and talking through my entire talk and the background noise level was high – it was a bar, after all – some of the audience actually listened. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by that response and there were even a few questions afterward about book publishing and children’s science books. All in all, it was a great experience.
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