Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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Guessing Weights

How To Weigh A Dragon By Eye: I want to be sure I can work out the right amount of cheese to feed a dragon, in case I happen to meet one, but it’s almost as difficult to approach a dragon with a tape measure as it is to get one on a scale.

Instead of figuring out how to get close enough to a dragon to measure it, I think I need to get very good at guessing weights just by looking. I’ve started practicing on animals that are easier to approach, like horses, cows and dogs, so that when I meet a dragon, I’ll be ready.

As my first step, I try to compare any animal I see to a stationary object near the animals. That way I can measure the stationary object later, and work out just how big the animal really is.

Then, I compare the size of that animal to one for which I already know the weight. For example, a Shetland pony weighs about 500-600 pounds, a quarterhorse weighs about 1,000-1,200 pounds, and a Clydesdale weighs about 1,800-2,000 pounds.

An animal that is finer than a horse has less weight. For example, a female white-tailed deer, which can be almost as tall as a quarter horse at the shoulder, weighs only about 125 pounds, because she has such fine legs and head, and a smaller body. On the other hand a farm pig, which isn’t as tall as a Shetland pony, can weigh 1,200-1,500 pounds, because he has a bigger body and shorter legs.

I practice at home by estimating the weights of the cats and dogs in my neighborhood. Another great way to practice is to go to the zoo and try estimating the weights of the animals in the exhibits. The zoo-keepers know the approximate weights of the animals in their care, so I can check how close I’m getting with my estimates. If any of the zoo-keepers want to know why I’m asking, I just tell them I’m working on a project for school.

I’m finding that estimating the weight of an animal just by looking at it is really difficult, but with practice, I think I can improve. - BUG, Field Agent, Iranigami


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