Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Darwin Day!

Today would be Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. Happy birthday!

Over the weekend, Minnesota Atheists had a kid-friendly meetup at the Science Museum of Minnesota to celebrate Darwin Day. I wanted to go! Sadly, we already had conflicting plans... but we had fun, too.
Instead of the Science Museum, the girls and I were at the Minnesota Zoo, where they were taking a class on penguins! This was the first time they've gone to a class there, and I highly recommend it. The girls had a blast, learned a lot, and can't wait to do another one. The zoo offers classes for kids (including summer camps for school-aged kids), families, and adults - check it out!

Because the penguin class was kids-only, I had two hours of kid-free time at the zoo! It was great... I really love the zoo, but am usually distracted by my children and don't get to linger. So this was a rare opportunity for me! Because Darwin Day was on my mind, I ended up really marveling at the strange and beautiful diversity of life.

These weedy sea dragons always amaze me... the exhibit notes say that they are so fragile that they can be damaged just from the touch of a human hand. They're beautiful - I love watching them slowly drifting along.

This colobus monkey was taking a little nap on a log right next to the window. So relaxed and peaceful. I loved being able to see him up close like that.

This curious little guy is a prehensile-tailed (or Solomon Islands) skink! He was the subject of a "meet a reptile" demonstration. You can't see it here, but his tail is really amazing. I learned that this is just about the only type of skink that is a herbivore - most of the other species are omniverous and their diets include insects. The zookeeper holding the skink said that they feed it leaves of a type of plant (I forget the name...) that's actually poisonous to many other animals. But this skink can handle it!

I saw so many other animals in those two hours... lionfish, penguins, a shark, coyotes, a sea turtle, black bears, eels, flamingos, wolverines, dwarf cuttlefish... at the end of my time, I was left awestruck at the the diversity of life that's evolved and survived on earth.

Oh, and don't forget about pandas and spiders!

Life is strange and weird and beautiful. :)

Happy Darwin Day!

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