Thursday, June 25, 2015

BELUGA WHALE: Friends You Can Trust

Known as “Ghost Whale”, Beluga is the only whale that is all white. Because of her pale color, Russians named Her, Belulcha, which means “white one”. Like Manatee, Beluga was once thought to be a mermaid. Today, She is a major character in children’s stories.

Like her Mother, Beluga returns to the same river estuary every year. Her Mother first took Her to their “home” when She was a Calf. However, when the ice freezes over her estuary, Beluga will leave her home for warmer coastal waters. But come the springtime, She returns with her Calf to feed in the nourishing Polar waters of their estuary.

Unlike other Whales, Beluga has a flexible neck, and can move her head from side to side. Because of her unique ability, She does a visual sweep of the ocean floor while swimming. Her famed flexibility extends to other parts of her body as well. Beluga’s bendable flippers help Her get out of tight squeezes. Her moveable face makes Her one of the most expressive whales. In fact, She often forms her mouth into an “O”. When She is unhappy, Beluga will squirt the offender with streams of water from her puckered mouth.

Since She travels in pods of a hundred or more Whales, having a social life is important to Beluga. Called “Sea Canary”, She chirps, peeps, and squeaks to her Pod Mates. In her Pod, Beluga talks with Them all, using trills, chirps, and clucks. Sometimes, She sounds like a rusty gate or an out-of-tune string band, conversing with other Belugas.

Life in Beluga’s Pod is loud and noisy. The only time, She and her Friends are silent is when Orca (Killer Whale) is near. Then silence rules the ocean waters. Beluga shows that, with friends you can trust, you will always know when danger is near.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dinosaurs: HERRERASAURUS: Being Avant-garde

(Copyright: Nobu Tamura)

Living in the late Triassic (about 225 million years ago), Herrerasaurus, one of the oldest Dinosaurs, emerged with a breakthrough body plan. A fast and ferocious hunter, this Meat-Eater set the standard for future Dinosaurs. Living just before the Age of Dinosaurs, Herrerasaurus had to cope with Protosuchus, the hunter of Dinosaurs. This ancient relative of the modern crocodile dominated the landscape. To evade this formidable predator, Herrerasaurus had to use his speed and agility, escaping through the underbrush.
Herrerasaurus was a predator in his own right. As one of the first predators to walk on two legs, He started the chain that resulted in future Dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex ruling the land. To successfully hunt, Herrerasaurus had sharp claws on his fingers. These claws had hooks to slice meat from the bones. Meanwhile, the bones in his short arms reminded paleontologists of modern Birds. One feature unique to Him was his sliding lower jaw, which enabled Herrerasaurus to rake his teeth through his prey. As one of the first Dinosaurs, Herrerasaurus is considered by scientists to be a Basal (Basic) Theropod. (Theropods includes T.-rex and other Raptors.)
First found on an Argentine ranch in 1950, Herrerasaurus (Herrera’s lizard) was not considered a new species. Only in 1988, when his skull was discovered, did anyone know that He was different. Then after scientists determined that He was a Dinosaur, they had a spirited debate about what Family Herrerasaurus belonged to. Since He was found in the same region as Eoraptor, They decided upon “Basal Theropod.”
As one of the first Dinosaurs, Herrerasaurus pushed the envelope beyond what existed at the time. To the Others, He was “the Shock of the New.” Living more than 100 million years before T.-rex, He stood up to hunt his prey. Furthermore, his arms precluded the advent of Birds. Herrerasaurus helped to usher in the Age of the Dinosaurs. He was avant-garde, since He was innovative, and expanded the boundaries of what Dinosaurs could become. When you embrace being avant-garde, you may be laughed at, but who knows what future you have allowed to come into being. Let Herrerasaurus show you how to shock people with the New.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dinosaurs: EORAPTOR: Living with Ambiguity

From Wikipedia

One of the earliest dinosaurs, Eoraptor lived during the Late Triassic Period (about 228 million years ago). The world that Eoraptor inhabited was ruled by Protosuchus, a massive jawed relative of the modern crocodile. In this dry open-forested land, Dinosaurs survived only to be hunted by Protosuchus. The Age of the Dinosaurs was just dawning during Eoraptor’s time.
            Eoraptor was a small slender Dinosaur who ate both plants and animals. She possessed teeth for both a carnivore and an herbivore. A swift sprinter, Eoraptor used her sharp claws to tear her prey apart. (She had five “fingers” on each hand, but only three had long claws.) Since She did not have any of the specialized features of later Dinosaurs, Eoraptor could not hold large prey with her jaws.
            Discovered in 1991 by Paul Sereno and Alfretto Monetta in Argentina, Eoraptor remained a puzzle until 2011. Her discoverer, Paul Sereno thought She was a theropod like Tyrannosaurus, at first, since Eoraptor was bipedal and had similar teeth. However, She also had characteristics of Dinosaurs like Apatosaurus. At this point, paleontologists were not sure what She was, and debated the issue back and forth.
            Then in 2011, Eodromaeus, who lived at the same time and place as Eoraptor, was discovered. This Dinosaur. Eodromaeus, scientists realized that He was the earliest Theropod, the Family which includes T. rex and other Raptors. When compared to Him, Eoraptor was neither a Theropod nor a Sauropod. Since She had characteristics of both, Eoraptor was place in her own family of Eusaurischia.      
            Eoraptor teaches that sometimes ambiguity is the only answer. Doubt is not a comfortable place to be, but it is a part of life. In Eoraptor’s case, her ambiguous nature spurred vigorous debate amongst paleontologists. Sometimes ambiguity is a holding place until something definite happens. In ambiguity, exists several possibilities, waiting to be explored. Let Eoraptor be your guide.