Fancy Beasts

Below is a selection of superfine reptiles from the amphibian and reptile exhibit at Zoo Atlanta. They’re surprisingly photogenic creatures; as you can see from the pictures, they all turned toward the camera to let me capture their delightful smiles and that intense reptile-brain look in their eyes. And be sure to take a close look at the most-excellent talon manicure in the last two images.

In the fifth century B.C.E., the Greek philosopher Protagoras pronounced, “Man is the measure of all things.” Such an assumption makes us overlook a lot. Abilities said to “make us human” — empathy, communication, grief, toolmaking, and so on — all exist to varying degrees among other minds sharing the world with us. Animals with backbones (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) all share the same basic skeleton, organs, nervous systems, hormones, and behaviors. Just as different models of automobiles each have an engine, drive train, four wheels, doors, and seats, we differ mainly in terms of our outside contours and a few internal tweaks. But like naïve car buyers, most people see only animals’ varied exteriors. — from Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina

Thanks for stopping by; stay tuned for a coming attraction: Snakes on a Blog!

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