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Posts Tagged ‘ID’

Animal Skulls that Spin…Wheeee!

  Mastodon or Mammoth Skull

Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

OK, I meant to link to this part of UM’s Museum of Zoology in the last post but forgot. I guess I’m just geeky enough to find it amusing to play with spinning animal skulls. (They would also be very useful for students to use in ID classes, but for now I just like to spin them ’round and ’round). 😉  You will need QuickTime in order to use this feature, BTW.

Should you want to see a spinning human skull, look here. And for a list of books and on-line resources on animal skull ID, check out this teacher’s resource guide. Finally, if you want to see some very weird animal skulls and an awesome educational website, check out the California Academy of Sciences “Skull” online exhibit.

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Sorting BugsSo, I made it back home with only two chigger bites. And I slathered on the bug spray, too (so far, I am NOT impressed with Picaridin….although, I was not bothered by any skeeters or ticks). And I have to say that Rt. 247 gets my award for the most twisty, scary drive this year. Now I don’t even need to go to Cedar Point!

Had a blast collecting hoppers and ID-ing them (with much help). The coolest bugs, by far, were the piglet bugs. They are very tiny planthoppers. We’re talking mere millimeters, here so I couldn’t take any pictures with my icky camera (again with the camera?!) The best I could find are these pictures. Cute little fellows with racing stripes.

I think the biggest shock to the naturalists in the group was learning that Homoptera is no more. These critters are all now classified as Hemiptera due to new genetic testing. But stay tuned because things are changing daily with reclassification, it seems.

We also spent a good part of the time looking at bug genitalia under the microscope, as that is one of the only ways to identify some species. It’s not as exciting as you think 😉

Check out this cool key if you are really into hoppers.

Seems we have a lot of invasive, non-native hoppers, in this country. A bad thing, as they are commonly vectors of plant diseases. In fact, there is a corn leafhopper from Mexico that causes widespread crop devastation south of the border and in California but has so far not been able to overwinter in the US Corn Belt. However, as our presenter pointed out, if global temperatures rise by a few degrees with global warming, you can imagine things will not go well… 

Here’s a scary article outlining some of this:

“Relatively small changes in mean temperature can result in disproportionately large changes in the frequency of extreme events. Des Moines, Iowa, in the heart of the Corn Belt, currently experiences fewer than 20 days above 90oF; this would double with a mean warming of 3.6oF.”

And since we are on depressing topics, I can’t even begin to describe the poverty that exists around this beautiful natural area. It’s a strange dichotomy of huge vacation homes on one side of the road as city dwellers expand out and across the street are rusted out mobile homes and barely standing shacks with out houses. While this is about an area a little further east, you get a good feel for the issues in this article. I just finished reading Night Comes to the Cumberlands by Harry Caudill and it is ironic how much that book describes conditions that still exist today in this part of Ohio.

I have to give a big shout out to Dr. Dietrich (for being so patient with all of our questions and our pitiful attempts to pin the tiny buggers!) and to the staff at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve (Chris, Mark and Jessica) for being great pancake cookers and genial hosts! I’m ready for another workshop.

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