23 Strand Braid

I sat down in front of Sarah for about 30 minutes and this is what appeared in my hair. This is a braid with 23 strands. It began as a 3 stranded braid into which she incorporated 2 strands at a time kind of like a doing a french braid. If you're looking for instructions on how to do a multi-strand braid, odd-numbered strand braid, or just braids in general please feel free to contract me.
Sarah is also the lovely lady who created this Katara hairstyle.


Preserving Herps

Today I preserved three reptiles for scientific collections. To do this the reptiles were first frozen in a deep freeze to kill all parasites and to stop the animal from rotting (especially important because most of the animals we got at road-kill). They are then thawed and rinsed in water. The lizards and salamanders are positioned with their front limbs extended Super Man style and their back limbs bent at a 90 degree angle at the knee joint. Their tails are straitened, unless they are long in which case they are doubled back along the body. Snakes are massaged to relax the muscles then laid out straight. Formalin (formaldehyde and water) are injected into the body cavity; in lizards the limbs and tail are either pricked to allow in formalin or injected with it. Amphibians are not injected; their permeable skin will absorb it once in the jar. The snakes are injected along the length of the body with special care taken to inject formalin into each of the three sections of the coelomic cavity. Lizards and amphibians are put into jars in the position they were posed in prior to injection. Snakes are coiled in the jar. The jars are then filled with formalin and left to sit for 7-10 days. At this point the animals are washed in water and placed in ethanol (except for larvae and eggs which are kept in formalin).
I worked on a male Jackson's Chameleon, female Long-nosed Snake, and a female Lyre Snake (in order in the pictures). Jackson's Chameleons are a species native to east Africa and are a popular species of pet. This particular critter was a pet and was donated to the research collection. Long-nosed Snakes are native to much of the western US and Mexico. They are nonvenomous and fossorial. Lyre Snakes are mildly venomous and rear-fanged. They are found in California, Texas and Mexico.


Attenborough's Ark

David Attenborough was recently asked which 10 animals he would take on an ark to save. Those he chose made the list because because they are emblematic of the plight of their species, as well as those related to them, and because they "lift the heart". The show, Attenborough's Ark, will broadcast on BBC2 on November 9th at 9pm.

1. Black Lion Tamarin
2.Sumatran Rhino (smallest of the rhinos)
3. Solenodon (venomous mammal)
4. Olm Salamander (blind cave dweller)
5. Marvelous Spatuletail Hummingbird
6. Darwin's Frog (mouth brooder)
7. Sunda Pangolin (armor plated mammal)
8. Priam's Birding Butterfly (aka birdwing)
9. Northern Quoll (marsupial)
10. Venus's Flower Basket (deep water sponge)


Cute Critters for Everyone

Another post of cute things to alleviate stress.


I've had a bit of a stressful week so I'm providing myself with these pictures, but it would be rude to withhold such beauty from others, so here are some beautiful snakes.
In order: leaf-nosed snake, rough green snake, red-tailed boa, green vine snake, ring-necked snake, and blue Malaysian coral snake.


Plant MRI

An MRI, to simplify, works by taking pictures of minute slivers of what ever is placed inside it. Think of it like and egg slicer where each slice is microns thin and a photograph is taken of it. These slices are then run together like a flip book to form a video. Andy Ellison of Boston University Medical School put a whole bunch of produce though an MRI. The results are beautiful.


Haeckel's Drawings

I'll do a longer post on Haeckel later, but for those who don't know, he's an amazing artist. These are just some of his drawings. He is best known for his radiolarians, but he illustrated many other organisms as well. I will admit that not all of his drawings are accurate, they can be a tad theatrical, but they are so beautiful I at least am willing to over look that.


Oology Cards set #6

I am still entering gull eggs into the data base. Today we reached the 100,000 mark in number of egg sets entered, so that's about half way.
The first gull we'll look at is the Audouin's Gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii) which is also the rarest gull I'll talk about today. It is a small gull being about the size of a Ring-billed Gull. In the 1960's the population had dropped to just 1,000 birds with the whole population found in the
Mediterranean and western coast of Saharan Africa. As of today the population is up to about 10,000 but still needs to climb higher to negate many of the risks of small population size. The gulls traditionally feed by fishing, unlike many other gulls which scavenge. Nowadays they rely mostly on by-catch from industrial fishing operations. Their current main threats are tourism, which has led to coastal development as well as disturbances during the breeding season, and its dependence on fishing operations. If the fishing stocks were to deplete further and the fisheries to close the gulls would take many generations to go back to fishing for themselves. The IUCN lists them as Near Threatened.
Our next gull is the Mew Gull (Larus canus) also known as the Common Gull. Contrary to what its name suggests this bird is not especially common, despite a large range, but instead feeds on common land during the breeding season ie. pasture land. The gulls are found throughout most of the upper parts of the Northern Hemisphere. They feed mainly on insects during the breeding season and on marine critters out of the breeding season. They also eat berries which makes them omnivorous. The birds are not currently under threat as human activities such as fishing benefit them enough to raise their numbers. The IUCN lists them as Least Concern.
Our last gull is the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus sp.). They are probably the most widely seen pink-legged gull in the U.S. and are also very common in Europe. They are so common that in some coastal areas they are considered a pest as they out compete rare shorebirds for nesting sites. The adults usually spent the non-breeding season close to the breeding site and can be found near both fresh and salt water. The gulls are vulnerable to threats such as pesticide use and oil spills, but on the whole the population is increasing. They are opportunistic feeders eating everything from by-catch to eggs to trash. Due to their large numbers the IUCN lists them as Least Concern.

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit- Update

The Oregon zoo has just released the last of its rabbits from their breeding program. They crossed the highly endangered rabbits with Idaho Pygmy Rabbits and others to increase genetic diversity. The breeding program produced more than 600 healthy adults which lived up to 5 years, 2 years longer than the life expectancy. The rabbits were released into the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area in eastern Washington state. In 2011 the first litter of wild-born kits was confirmed in more than 10 years.


France Trip

I just got back from trip to France with my family. We started in Paris then moved on to the Perigord region. In Paris we went to the Natural History Museum and the Menagerie at the gardens. If anyone is ever looking for something to do in Paris that's not super touristy, go to the gardens. It's right by the Paris Mosque which has a great restaurant and tea salon in it. We also went to the Musee d'Orsay which specializes in Impressionist art. If you are a chocolate fan like I am, you MUST go to Maison du Chocolat, they have the best chocolate I have ever had. And, if you're there med July to mid August you can buy their ice cream and sorbet which are both out of this world. We drove to the Perigord region which is about 6 hours south of Paris. We stayed with a friend near Belves. Some good day trips included the canoe trip down the Dordogne River and falcon show at Chateau des Milandes.
I also got in some birding while overseas. I saw 27 new species that I added to my life list. These included the European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) which is quite the talker for such a tiny bird, Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) which likes to hang upside down from branches, and the Common Buzzard which we saw munching on a rabbit on the side of the road(Buteo buteo).