Sunday, October 30, 2011

Loreal Pit

This is a close-up of a Panamint Red Rattlesnake. You can see the loreal pit between and below the eye and the nostril.

Loreal pit

The Loreal pit is the deep depression, or fossa, in the loreal area on either side of the head in crotaline snakes (pitvipers). It is located behind the nostril and in front of the eye, but below the line that runs between the centers of each. It is the external opening to an extremely sensitive infrared detecting organ. The loreal pit is bordered by lacunal scales.[1]
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

fossa /fos·sa/ (fos´ah) pl. fos´sae [L.] a trench or channel; in anatomy, a hollow or depressed area.

Heat Vision

Rattlesnakes and other pit vipers have remarkable heat-sensing pits. Located behind each nostril, below a straight line that would directly connect the nostril to the eye, is a loreal pit (called this because it is a depression in the loreal scale). These pits are highly effective in detecting differences in temperature even several yards away. At short ranges within a foot or so, minute differences (of perhaps fractions of a degree) may be perceived.

Heat given off by an animal creates a heat image; therefore, rattlesnakes have “heat vision.” The heat images are integrated with visual ones in the brain. This type of vision is helpful for nocturnal predators, for it enables them to hunt effectively even in total darkness. It may also help distinguish predator from prey, allowing rattlesnakes to determine whether they are at risk themselves. Larger, non-prey animals give off larger heat images, signaling the snakes to avoid potential encounters with these animals.

This is from

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Wonder of the Fairy Shrimp!

Is this wicked looking, or what?
I think I can remember this climbing into Checkoff's ear in one of the Star Trek movies!

This is a Fairy Shrimp. There eggs inhabit catch basins in the desert and when it rains the eggs hatch and the shrimp begin to grow. Before the water completely evaporates the shrimp lay their eggs and the eggs can sit in the sand in the dried up catch basin for up to years before it rains again, and the shrimp start their life cycle all over again.

This is the catch basin (tinyaha: in Paiute) where I photographed the Fairy Shrimp.
This is near Atlatal Rock in the Valley of Fire State Park.

A view of the bottom side of the Fairy Shrimp.

And here it is a little closer up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The California King Snake

The California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae)

This is a California Kingsnake that I found on the 13 mile loop in Red Rock National Conservation area outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. It had been run over and when I drove by it I thought it was a bracelet. Realizing that it would be very unlikely for there to be a bracelet on the road, I backed up and saw that it was a juvenile king snake.

  • The California King snake is a constrictor and kills and eats rodents, reptiles, and birds by constricting and crushing the life out of its food.
  • It is one of the most popular of the Southwestern snakes to keep as a pet and also to breed.
  • This time of the year reptiles and mammals are especially vulnerable on the roads in the desert because it is finally cool enough to hunt and move about during the day when there is more traffic.
  • I collected the snake carcass because I wanted to photograph it and also preserve the snakeskin.

Friday, October 7, 2011

O Lord, how manifold are thy works!

Toroweap Point, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Definition of manifold:
adjective: many and varied; having many features or forms

Taken from Yavapai Point, South Rim NP

Taken from Yavapai Point, South Rim NP

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world,
along with Mount Everest in Nepal
Victoria Falls in Zambia / Zimbabwe,
Australia's Great Barrier Reef,
the Northern Lights,
Paricutan Volcano in Mexico,
and the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Big Horn Sheep Ram in Valley of Fire, State Park

Toroweap Point

Toroweap, North Rim of the Grand Canyon