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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Wordless Wednesday: Summer Canopy

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Calm Waters

The Saranac River, in northern New York, runs about 80 miles from its source in the Adirondack Mountains to its termination at Lake Champlain near the city of Plattsburgh. On its route, it passes through the centers of many rural small towns established along the river as nineteenth century industries — lumber mills, blacksmiths, iron works, farming, and apple orchards among them — sprung up in the heavily wooded, rich soils of the entire region. The remnants of early plank roads built along the river to service these communities can still be found in the woodlands near the water, and the river later became a source for electricity generation along much of its length. Several of the original, now abandoned electrical substations are just a short walk from where I grew up, along with modernized substations that still contribute electric power to the area. The river features prominently in the region’s military history, and the Lake Champlain monster — Champy — is believed to occasionally winter in the river.  : )

The river and the villages it flows through are frequent subjects in the landscape images I’m working on for my Flickr Reboot project. I took the photos below near the high school I graduated from, where the river has carved an inlet around a small island a few steps from the road. You can see a wider view of the location in a Google Maps street view here.

Despite its proximity to the highway, this spot is a tiny oasis at the bottom of a hill. Select the first image to begin a slideshow, and if I’ve done my job well, you might just feel a calm summer breeze drifting over you.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

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Whose Leaf Is It Anyway?

A bit of zoo-drama in pictures….

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