Archive for January, 2014

What A Story

If these fossilized vertebrae could talk ….

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 I found these mosasaur vertebrae in the Niobrara chalk of western Kansas in October 2003.

My oldest son, Keith, was stationed at Fort Riley at the time, and took my husband and I fossil hunting.

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 The Niobrara chalk formed from an inland sea that divided North America during the age of dinosaurs.  Mosasaurs were marine lizards that lived during the late Cretaceous Period. They grew to  59 feet long.

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Mike Everhart joined us for two days and looked over my finds for the trip. Keith had identified these vertebrae for me. Mike told me that a shark bit them off,  and that they were partially digested.

I can’t imagine life in an ancient sea during the time of dinosaurs.

I do know I’d rather visit it in my imagination.

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Mike has an extensive website, Oceans of Kansas, and here’s the link to its page on mosasaurs.

http://www.oceansofkansas.com/about-mo.html

Basking Butterflies

The strong Arctic blast came through southern Illinois before midnight last night. The sun does shine. A northwest wind, gusting to 25, has the windchill at -22.  I didn’t post this blog the end of October when I wrote it. For obvious reasons, today seemed the right day for posting it.

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A hard frost changed our yard considerably last night.

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Butterfly numbers were down to two this afternoon. The orange sulphur spent its time going from one sunny spot to another and basking in the sun.

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It stayed near the barn where the radiant heat added to that of the direct sunlight. The butterfly also angled its body to receive maximum heat. This angled position is called lateral basking.

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The other butterfly, a painted lady, preferred the white asters where it basked with its wings open. This position is called dorsal basking.

I sit here looking out the picture window at the backyard, wondering where the warm weather went and if I might see anymore butterflies before winter.

New Year’s Yard Walk-About

The sky cleared this morning, and light rain and snow are expected later this evening.

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The thought “yard walk-about” had me heading out the door. This milkweed seed obviously stood out where it was stuck to the ice in the water garden. I knew it wasn’t from the butterflyweed that grows in my butterfly garden. They released their seeds months ago.

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Ripples in the ice created interesting shadow designs.

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Feeding immature leaf miners left designs on this leaf.

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This climbing milkweed (Amplelamus albidus) is considered a pest. Monarch butterflies will occasionally nectar on its small white flowers, and will lay eggs on the leaves late in the season.

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Squirrels occasionally visit our yard. It stayed frozen on the limb of the elm tree, and hurried toward the trunk when I started walking.

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I might just have to do another yard walk-about this afternoon too.

If I remember right, there’s a law against doing housework on New Year’s Day.