Thursday, March 31, 2011

GABOON VIPER: Dangerous Beauty

The heaviest Snake in the world, Gaboon Viper is easily identified by her broad triangular head.  Her spade-shaped head houses her huge venom sacs.  As an ambush predator, Gaboon Viper anchors her heavy body to the ground.  Stationary, She waits for an unwary animal to come by.  In a lightening fast move, She kills her prey with her venom.
            Because of her sedentary nature, Gaboon Viper is usually underestimated to be a dangerous Snake.  Also, her mellow placid nature lulls people into a false sense of security.  However without warning, Gaboon Viper will bite and kill them.
            Preferring to be invisible, Gaboon Viper digs Herself into the leaf letter of the floor of the African jungle.  Her intricately patterned body also helps to camouflage Her.  Purple and dark browns mix with pastels to create a work of sheer beauty which is her body.  With interlocking diamonds and triangles, sacred geometry is openly displayed on her skin.
            Gaboon Viper seems mellow and colorful.  In addition, her body is a work of art to be admired.  However hidden underneath that beauty is a deadly Snake.  Look but do not touch.  Do not be lulled into a sense of safety.  Remember beauty hides Gaboon Viper’s danger and death.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Found throughout Africa, African Puff Adder (Bitis arientans) is responsible for many lethal snake bites.  A seemingly sluggish Snake, He can strike at his victims at lightening fast speeds.  In fact, this bad-tempered Snake is credited with the most fatalities from Snakes in Africa.
            Active at night, African Puff Adder enjoys swimming in the water.  Later, He will lay on a warm road which retains the sun’s warmth.  During the day, African Puff Adder basks in the sun either on shrubs or in footpaths.
            Before striking, African Puff Adder puffs Himself up and hisses a warning.  Since He is the fastest striking Snake in the world, African Puff Adder will strike deep into his victim’s flesh.  Many times, his prey will die from physical trauma before succumbing to the venom.  Moreover, African Puff Adder can strike sideways as well as front ways.  So his victims have no opportunity to escape.
            Pay attention hisses African Puff Adder.  You need to look where you walk or you will step on a Snake.  Be prepared and not be surprised at anything or you will not be able to get away.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PUFF ADDER SUB-FAMILY (BITIS): Be Aware of Your Surroundings

            Various Members of the Puff Adder Sub-Family are noted for inflating their bodies and puffing Themselves up.  By forcibly exhaling air, these Snakes make loud warning noises.  Pay head to these hissing alarms since these large stout-bodied Snakes are deadly.  In Africa, Members of the Puff Adder Sub-Family are responsible for the most snake bites among venomous Snakes.
            Members of the Puff Adder Sub-Family can be identified by their massively built bodies and broad triangular heads. Gaboon Viper, the heaviest of all Snakes, is easily identified by her huge head.  In addition, some of these Snakes have horns such as Rhinoceros Viper.  The horns on these Puff Adders are a cluster of enlarged pointed scales on their snouts.
            Because of their large heavy bodies, Members of the Puff Adder Sub-Family are usually ambush hunters.  They may seem sluggish in nature but these Snakes will strike at lightening fast speeds at their victims.  Lying among the leaf litter, They camouflage by Themselves digging in.  In addition, their bodies have ornate patterns making Puff Adders nearly invisible.  An unwary prey will nearly step on one of these Snakes before they are bitten.
            Be aware of your surroundings instruct the Pub Adder Sub-Family.  Because these Snakes are dangerous, people need to watch where they step, for a venomous Snake could be lurking in the leaves.  Be alert and save your life.  
Science Notes:

1.       Because hognose snakes (Heterodon) will flatten their necks and raise their heads and hiss, they are also called “puff adders”.  However, these snakes are not considered dangerous to humans.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Dragons of DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING (part 2)

The move DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING (2000, LEFLER) is a story of a boy and his dragon.  The young dragon, Drake has to learn how to be a dragon.  One of his teachers is Master Kwan from China (Hubei).  Meanwhile, the stable boy Geoff is learning to be a knight.  His major instructor is Osric, a dragon in human form, originally from the East.

Master Kwan tells Drake and Geoff, the history of dragons.  Originally, dragons ruled the world.  When people appeared, the dragons saw the good in humans.  Therefore, they aided mankind in building a civilization.  Therefore, when a dragon died, their soul became a part of the star constellation, Draco, the Dragon.

However a dragon named, Griffin, lead a rebellion against the other dragons and humans.  Griffin regarded humans to be inferior.  Moreover, he thought that the dragons should control those who were weaker than they such as mere humans.

The virtuous (as Master Kwan called them) dragons killed Griffin and the others who rebelled with him.  They kept Griffin’s heart as proof of his demise.  However the Emperor Kwan Long was convinced that all dragons were evil.  Therefore he hunted them and killed all of the dragons he could find.

Among the Chinese, dragons are considered to be benevolent and virtuous.  Chinese dragons such as the ones in Master Kwan’s story helped people.  They were wise and provided the life giving rains for the Chinese.  Like Griffin, there were one or two dragons who disliked people.  However these dragons were usually angry over loss of their territory.  (“The Gaoliang Bridge” is an example of this.)

According to the Chinese, the Dragon Kings answered to the Jade Emperor.  He ruled over them and told them when and where to bring the rains.  The dragons of Master Kwan’s tale were governed by Emperor Kwan Long.  Because of his dominion over them, the Emperor could kill the dragons at will.

Kwan Long’s great-granddaughter, Kuo Fan tested Drake to see if he was evil.  If Drake sought wisdom from Griffin’s heart, then he was evil.  However, Drake refused, and was declared to be “good”.  Therefore, Kuo Fan did not have to kill him.

Chinese dragons possessed pearls of wisdom.  In this movie, the seat of wisdom was the heart of the dragon.  Master Kwan informed Drake that Griffin’s heart could grant him instant wisdom.  In addition, if a dragon shared their heart with a human, the two became as one.

In Japan, the Ukashima Dragon foretold doom with a mournful song, and later would appear to wreak havoc.  In this movie, doom was foretold by twin comets crossing in Draco, the constellation.  Various people interpreted this as a dragon coming to bring disaster.  What it meant was that Griffin would return to rule over humankind.  (Like the Ukashima Dragon, Griffin was also white.)

A Japanese myth tells a young woman Kiyo becoming a dragon for vengeance.  Griffin who became the human Osric (as a punishment for his misdeeds) sought to learn the secret arts.  Like Kiyo, he wanted the means to transform into a dragon.  Osric wanted power and revenge for the perceived wrongs done to him.  However unlike Kiyo, Osric failed to achieve his vengeance, and was stopped by Drake.

Griffin/Osric had the temperament of Middle Eastern dragons.  Like many of them, he was capable of destroying the world.  Also, Griffin’s body resembled those of Middle Eastern dragons.  He had a stocky body, two horns, four legs, and batwings.  Although, Griffin physically resembled Bahamut, the Lord of Time, he acted more like Freyeth, the Firelord.

The dragons described by Master Kwan in DRAGONHEART: A NEW BEGINNING were Chinese.  Meanwhile, Griffin resembled the Middle Eastern dragons in his form and desires.  Osric was like Kiyo the Japanese woman in his desire to transform into a dragon.  Only Drake seemed to be the usual European dragon that most people are familiar with.