Spring, Slimy Creatures and Galilean Moons

Nature Center at Pathfinder RanchThis Spring has been absolutely beautiful here at Pathfinder Ranch. The Manzanita shrubs are starting to bud along the trail, and we even heard the frogs start croaking along the waterfall! In addition, the extra sunlight shining through to our nature center is causing our ectothermic (cold-blooded) reptilian friends to be more active. They have been helping us to show that reptiles are not slimy or creepy creatures, but instead, animals with amazing adaptations! In fact, snakes can eat prey that is much larger than their heads. They can do this because their jaw is attached to their skull by strong ligaments, and the lower jaw can come apart from the upper jaw. This allows many snakes to open their mouths up to 150 degrees! That’s quite a yawn. As a comparison, humans can only open our mouths to 45 degrees!

outdoor education bridge at pathfinder ranchWe’ve been very fortunate to have clear skies for astronomy the past couple of weeks! The students were able to see Jupiter and its four Galilean moons, but did you know that Jupiter has a total of sixty moons?! We just can’t see them all in our telescopes. If the night sky intrigues you there is a cool website called Earth Sky/Tonight, and it tells you fun facts about the night sky and what you can look for. Check it out!

Some students even had a full moon to light up their night hike last week, which is when they learned about nocturnal adaptations that animals have to help them survive in the dark. While some students found their way through the darkness on their hike, others were at campfire where talents were abundant. I think that American Idol should be looking for talent at Pathfinder campfires with all the talented individuals that have come through here!  I can’t wait to meet all of the new students next week and find out what their interests and talents are!

Until next time,
The Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists 


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