Fossil Iguana Burrow in The Bahamas?

Even though Rock Iguanas (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) make their dens and escape holes in the limestone karst of the Caribbean islands, the females still need sand to lay their eggs. Females dig a burrow tunnel, lay their eggs in a chamber, then back fill it in—the iguana mothers cover over the entrance area to hide the presence of the eggs. I have watched females dig their dens and after their concealment efforts, I was unable to find the burrow entrance. Once the eggs hatch, the baby iguanas dig their way out of the tunnel to the surface.

Researchers have published an article stating they found a fossil iguana burrow on an island in The Bahamas: First known trace fossil of a nesting iguana (Pleistocene) The Bahamas  by Anthony J. Martin, Dorothy Stearns, Meredith J. Whitten, Melissa M. Hage, Michael Page, and Arya Basu.

Illustration by Anthony Martin of prehistoric iguana burrow

Illustration shows a cross section of the prehistoric iguana burrow, and how the surrounding landscape may have looked during the Late Pleistocene Epoch. (Credit: Anthony Martin.)

Anthony Martin is shown at the top of the page next to the trace fossil of the Pleistocene iguana burrow. (Credit: Melissa Hage.) The fossilized burrow dates back to the Late Pleistocene Epoch, about 115,000 years ago. The island still has iguanas, but they are critically endangered.

“After further investigation, Martin and his co-authors determined that the trace fossil he noticed on the limestone outcrop was that of a nesting iguana burrow. Ample evidence, including a nearby fossil land-crab burrow discovered by Hage, showed that the outcrop was a former inland sand dune, where iguanas prefer to lay their eggs.”

It is reasonable to assume fossilized sand dens would both be difficult to create and to be discovered, so if this is an ancient iguana nesting den, it is very exciting. Several iguana researchers doubt the conclusions of the authors, however. One point in question is that iguanas’ nesting dens are not dug straight down – they angle down slightly from the surface until the desired incubation temperature is found. They nesting chambers are not dug straight down as they appear to be in the fossil.

But that’s the great thing about science. Ideas are proposed and then evidence for and against the conclusions are presented and discussed.

photo San Salvador rock iguanas are critically endangered. Credit Anthony Martin.

The modern-day San Salvador rock iguanas are critically endangered. Credit: Anthony Martin.

One conclusion is certain: The San Salvador Rock Iguana is critically endangered. Hopefully, the current population can be preserved and not become known only as a fossil species.

For more information on iguanas and lizards and tortoises and turtles and snakes and roadrunners and desert plants and even a very special fairy (!), check out all the books here at elaineapowers.com.

A Big Hello from Curtis!

Welcome to Tales and Tails. I am Curtis Curly-tail, the very special lizard who launched Elaine’s career as the author of science-based children’s books–and now, she’s expanding to include science books for adults! Elaine has asked me to share my point of view and I’m very happy to have a place to write about what it’s like to be a lizard. I may even interview a few of my other reptile friends and tell their stories, too. Stay tuned!

But for now, Elaine has asked me to tell how her first book came to be–and, yes, it is all because of ME! Here is the true story:

When your tail is perfectly curled, you are asked to pose for a lot of pictures. But I, Curtis Curly-tail, wanted MORE—I wanted adventure, communication, friendship . . . STARDOM!

I needed a very special human, one who could see AND hear me. And there she finally was! Sitting on the beach, near my den! I scampered over to her and her friends. Out came the cameras. I posed for a few typical shots—turning this way and that, sunlight glinting off my scales, showing off my perfectly-curled tail to my best advantage.

They were smitten! I climbed onto my new friend’s sneaker and looked up at her. Using a mind-meld technique (for over two hours, I might add) I was able to send her one of my adventures! And she “got” it!

I didn’t go back with her to the ship—I’d been there and done that—but I knew when she got back to her cabin, being a writer, that she would have to sit and type up my story.

Several months later, a mother and child sat near my den on a blanket, under an umbrella. She was reading a children’s book to her young child. It was my story! There I was on the cover of the book, entitled Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers.

I jumped for joy! My dream had come true! I would be famous! Curly-tails would make way for me when I cruised the beach. I would finally find my mate! My photos would be enlarged to poster-sized and hang in children’s bedrooms. Maybe they would rename Warderick Wells Cay after me!

~ “Excuse me. Curtis?” Elaine butted into my fantasies.
“Elaine! This is my part of the blog!”
~ “I know, but you were getting carried away. You actually are pretty famous, but they will never rename the cay after you. Isn’t having your own You Tube channel pretty spectacular?”
“It is!”
~ “And isn’t being a lizard that dictates his thoughts to a human who can hear him pretty awesome?”
“Yes, Elaine.”
~ “Okay, then, my little friend, let’s wrap this up.”
“I will. You can go now.”
~ “I sure can.”

Humans are so bossy! Oops, sorry. I didn’t mean every human.

Welcome to Tales and Tails, where we focus on reptiles, fun and adventure—oh, and science books, too. Of course!

November 30th is National Mousse Day

Mousse is an interesting word. It looks like “mouse,” a rodent, but is pronounced “moose,” like the largest member of the deer family. When I think of mousse, I think of a light, pudding-like dessert, especially if it’s chocolate. A mousse is a soft food made with air bubbles to give it a light, creamy texture. A mousse can be sweet (the way I like it) or savory. Mousse means “froth” in Old French, but also “scum!”

Mousse has few ingredients: a base, an aerator, the flavoring and an optional thickener.

Sweet mousses are usually made with whipped egg whites and/or creams and flavorings. These are typically chilled and served as dessert.

Savory mousses are made from meat, fish, shellfish, pate’, cheese or vegetables. Hot mousses can get their fluffy texture from the addition of beaten egg whites. I’ve never eaten a savory mousse but now I am intrigued. Here are some recipes if you’d like to celebrate.

There is one more kind of mousse that you might be familiar with, the foamy hair product called mousse. With so many types of mousse, it might be confusing. But one thing I do know: don’t use chocolate mousse on your hair!

Book Note: I think I once heard Curtis Curly-tail mention that though he does not appreciate fluffy mousses, he thought Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy might. Next time I’m in The Bahamas, which I am greatly missing about this time, I will see if I can find Tabby and ask her. In the mean time, she is quite the ambassador for The Bahamas and for friendship, including cross-species friendships, which I am all for! Check out this heart-warming story of what friendship means and how we can make a difference in the lives of others.

a book cover about Tabby the five finger fairy and Cleo a bahamian boa
Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy, who comes from the Five-Finger Tree, Tabebuia bahamensis, loves the native plants, animals and people of The Bahamas. She makes friends wherever she goes!

Desert vs. Island Temps by Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

illustration of curtis curly-tail lizard
It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard! Don’t you just love my perfectly curled tail?

Since I’ve been staying in my den more, I’ve been tuning in to old TV shows. I enjoy the old Westerns set in the US Desert Southwest—maybe because that’s where my good friend and author, Elaine A. Powers, lives! The dry climate there is so different from my humid island weather. Where I live in the Exuma Island chain in The Bahamas, the temperature only varies between 28.0° Celsius (82.4° Fahrenheit) and 20.0° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit).

I mention this because I was watching the show, The High Chaparral, which is set in the Sonoran Desert, outside of Tucson, Arizona. In one episode, the character Manolito complains that the desert is very hot during the day, but so cold at night. Summer temperatures can exceed 40°C (104°F) during the day, but fall to around 20.0° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit) at night!

That’s a huge drop! I wondered how that happens, so I asked Elaine, of course. It’s due to the lack of water. No humidity! The sun warms the ground during the day, which raises the temperature. The lack of water in the ground means all that heat is lost after the sun sets; and the lack of vegetation helps in the loss of heat from the ground, too.

I realized it’s the humidity here in the islands that helps maintain our temperatures, so we don’t heat up too high during the day and lose as much of the sun’s warmth at night. Our temperatures stay within a narrow range, while those in the desert swing wildly.

photo of ocean wave coming in, below an orange sunset
Image courtesy of RUBEN EDUARDO ORTIZ MORALES from Pixabay

I’m glad I live here, in this perfect place, here on Warderick Wells Cay in the Caribbean. It could be the most perfect place in the world. Well—except for one thing. The hurricanes. I’d love it if you picked up a copy of my latest adventure/survival story, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! The kids will learn all about how my friends and I work to survive the hurricanes and how the people of The Bahamas help each other to rebuild. It’s an adventure tale with a happy ending—and environmental and weather science woven into the story. That’s Elaine’s specialty: making science books fun! Check her books out here and click on the amazingly fun workbooks to see the educational supplements associated with her books, published by Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.

children's book cover about Curtis Curly-tail lizard and a hurricane in the Bahamas
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.

If you’d like to learn more about the science of islands, check out the complete Curtis Curly-tail Series. If your children need to learn more about desert science, they should read Elaine’s Don’t Series, as well as the amusing How Not to Photograph a Hummingbird, which shows how dangerous that can be in a desert (in a humorous way) and includes a glossary of flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert.

Really! Check out Elaine’s books! She loves making science fun to read, in the hopes budding scientists will be born. And don’t forget about me! I have my own YouTube channel, where you can learn about Everything Reptiles! Come visit me today at Curtis Curly-tail Speaks. See you next time!

Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is Now Available! by Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

illustration of curtis curly-tail lizard
It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard! Don’t you just love my perfectly curled tail?

Hello, everyone! I recently mentioned my latest book would soon be out—well, it’s here! The next Curtis Curly-tail adventure has been released: Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is written by, of course, my good friend and author, Elaine A. Powers. The gorgeous illustrations are by artist Monique Carroll, who also illustrated Grow Home, Little Seeds.

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!)

The title kind of gives the story away, but I hope you will grab a copy so you can find out what happens to the iguanas and if I make my way back home to my perfect little den at Warderick Wells cay. It’s a great story for all the kids at home these days, and helps them to learn about weather science and ecosystems. Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away makes learning science fun and is for sale at Amazon.

‘Til next time, take care of yourselves and each other. Together, we will get through this, just like my friends and I, who help each other survive and recover from hurricanes. Friendship rules!

Tabby Sure Has My Attention! How About Yours? by Curtis Curly-tail

I like to think of author Elaine A. Powers’s You Tube channel as MY channel. It does, after all, say at the top of the page, “Curtis Curly-tail Speaks!”

But, I’m like, “Whoo, hoo! Look at that girl go!” I mean, have you seen and heard Tabby the Five-Finger Fairy on You Tube?

I’d read her books, of course–but I think I’m in love! Click the picture and see for yourself!

And remember, I’m here in The Bahamas with Tabby and you’re really far away! While I’m working on the girl, please check out her new video–and her books so important for The Bahamas!

Thanks from all your Bahamian Friends!

a book cover about Tabby the five finger fairy and Cleo a bahamian boa
Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy, who comes from the Five-Finger Tree, Tabebuia bahamensis, loves the native plants, animals and people of The Bahamas. She makes friends wherever she goes!
A brown book cover with illustrations of bahamian boa snakes
Tabby, the Five-Finger Fairy, is a good friend to everyone she meets. After Cleo, a Bahamian Boa, rescues her in their first book, Tabby & Cleo: Unexpected Friends, Tabby tells us about the natural history of the often misunderstood endemic Bahamian Boas, which have an important place in Bahamian life.