Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Whose Scales?

This is another variation on the "guessing game" entries posted in September, October, and November of 2011 (see "Guess Who? Part 1 & 2" and "Birds of a Feather Part 1 & 2" in my archives.)  Please note, instead of posting this entry in two parts, I've posted the answers at the end of this blog.

There are many types of scales.  And, no, I'm not talking about the kind you step on to weigh yourself!  As the body covering on several different types of animals, scales come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors.  Mostly, they serve as a protective outer layer--body armor of a sorts.  Do you know what kind of reptile these scales belong to?:
The next one is pretty easy--also from a reptile:
Reptile scales contain the protein keratin--the same stuff your fingernails are made of.  Look closely, you'll see that this reptile is shedding some of its scales:
Reptiles aren't the only kinds of animals with scales.  Can you figure out what animal has these beautiful scales?:
The last picture shows the scales of an animal you might see fluttering about in our Museum gardens mostly during the spring and summer:

Ready for the answers?....The first picture showed the scales of a yellow-bellied slider (a freshwater pond turtle.)  We have several kinds of turtles displayed in our Museum exhibits--I'll do a feature on them in a future blog.  Visitors can often spot wild turtles on the Museum grounds (we're adjacent to Deer Park Pond.):
 The second picture is of an alligator on display in our Cypress Swamp Habitarium:
The third photo is one of the copperhead displayed in our World of Darkness Gallery.  Look carefully--I was lucky enough to snap this photo as the snake was flicking its tongue in and out:
The fourth photo belongs to a brook trout in our Mountain Cove Habitarium.  The colorful brook trout is the state fish of Virginia:
The last photo showcases the brilliant scales of a tiger swallowtail butterfly.  In order to see its tiny scales you'll need a magnifying lens.  In our hands-on How Life Survives Discovery Center we have a variety of objects you can view with special magnifying scopes, including the scales of a butterfly.:
More off the beaten path in two weeks....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Second Glance

Walking through our Museum exhibits, I am ever intrigued by what I can see when I take a second look at an exhibit--sometimes I'm able to spot something I may have overlooked at first glance.  For example, one of my favorite places in the Museum is the Mountain Cove Habitarium--a lovely 2-story, walk-through exhibit showcasing the mountainous habitats of the western parts of Virginia.  Here's the view from the mezzanine level looking down into the large aquarium on the ground level of the display:

Looking carefully, you'll see three ducks standing on the edge of the water.  This is a close up of one the beautiful green-winged teal ducks that live in the exhibit.  This one is a female:

In our World of Darkness exhibit, people often walk by this one display and don't realize that some of its inhabitants are actually buried in the sand!  Do you see the skate?:

If you're patient, you might see them swim around.  Skates are close relatives of sharks and rays.  Here's the underside of a skate as it glides by the front of the tank: 

In the Virginia's Underground Discovery Center sits a fish tank labeled "Crusty Crustaceans."  There are lots of delightful little critters in this small display:

There are several types of tiny crustaceans in this tank, including some almost transparent grass shrimp that are shallow-water inhabitants of the Chesapeake Bay:

Finally, there's a small display on the upper level of our 2-story Cypress Swamp Habitarium.  Can you find the lizards?  I'll give you a clue:  they are brown, not green in color:

The day I took this picture, the lizards were sunning themselves at the front of the exhibit--one is on the grass and one is basking on the tree branch.  Often they're hard to see--great camouflage!:

So, if you ever get a chance to visit our Museum, take time for a second glance--you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find!  More off the beaten path in two weeks....