PHOTO above is courtesy of the App called SkyView.
Thanks to Tucson, Arizona being a dark sky city, stargazing can be wonderful. One recent September morning, I enjoyed viewing the crescent moon along with a bright object. Of course, that object was not a star, but the planet Venus. I thought it was worth a photo (below), even though my cell phone doesn’t take the best night-time images.
I’m not very knowledgeable about constellations, so I use the SkyView app. The constellation for the Zodiac sign Cancer was overlaid. I like how the claws appear to be holding the moon.
Several of these astronomy apps are free and fun to use. All you have to do is go outside and look up.
I wonder if Curtis Curly-tail lizard ever navigated his way home using the stars as guides? He certainly is a bright little guy and he really helps make learning science fun. Check out the Curtis Curly-tail series today!
Did you know that people sometimes call lizards toads? Toads—which are amphibians, by the way, not reptiles like us lizards. Even this lizard’s scientific name refers to toads! Phrynosoma means “toad-bodied”–all because they have flat, round bodies and blunt snouts. The correct common name for these interesting lizards is Horned Lizard—not horny toad!
The Horned Lizard doesn’t move around much, allowing its camouflage to help protect it from predators. The spines on the Horned Lizard’s back are modified scales, but they still make the lizard hard to swallow, especially when it puffs up. Roadrunners have learned to swallow the lizard with the spines facing away from them, so they don’t puncture their innards. That is an interesting fact from the rhyming and fun science book, Don’t Make Me Fly!, by Elaine A. Powers.
The horns on the lizard, however, are true horns, since they have a bony core. The lizard in the above photo is a Regal Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma solare. It gets its common name from the row of horns on its head. Regal Horned Lizards eat harvester ants, lots of harvester ants, over two thousand per meal. And they eat during the incredibly hot days in the desert!
Along with camouflage, spines, and running, Horned Lizards can also squirt blood from their eyes. (Ewwww, right?)The bad-tasting blood hits the predator’s mouth, discouraging it from eating the lizard. Now, that’s one trait I wouldn’t mind having. “Come on down, seagull! Open wide!”
So, dear readers, when you see any of these wonderful, interesting lizards, please don’t call them horny toads! Remember they are the amazing Horned LIZARDS–reptiles. Just like me, of course!
In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.
It’s not only animals that need protecting during hurricane season; people are also in danger. In this story, as in real life, people come together to help not only each other, but animals and the environment, as well. Along with the destruction caused by hurricanes, Elaine also discusses the positive effects in the book. (Yes, there are benefits from hurricanes. I’ll bet you didn’t know that!)
Hello, everyone! I’m Curtis Curly-tail. You may know me as the perfect Curly-tail lizard from the Bahamas with an itch for adventure. OR, perhaps you’ve seen me starring at my very own YouTube page, Curtis Curly-tail Speaks. Well, of course, I do! I am perfect, as they say!
Every morning I start the day by basking in the sun to warm up my body. I am a Sun Worshipper, after all. It’s warm on my cay but nor overly hot. I love to pose for visitors, and I’ve heard them say that I look my best when the sun is glinting off my shiny scales. I turn this way and that so they get their best shots. When I’m not riding Horace the Hutia, that is! YEE-HAW!
However, some of my friends who live in the Sonoran Desert don’t worship the sun. I agree with them that there’s a bit too much sun when it gets to be 110 degrees, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that my tortoise friends all run out into the rain when a storm starts.
Sonoran Desert Tortoises, like Zoe, pictured above, prefer to drink from the puddles that form when it rains. That ensures the water is fresh. Zoe carries all her water around in her bladder so it’s important to keep her reserve filled. The scarcity of water in the desert is why you should never pick up a desert tortoise. If she empties her bladder to scare you off, a popular defense mechanism for reptiles, she will lose the water that keeps her alive.
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