Thinking About …

Games, Books, Learning, Life

Sonoran Desert, Student Challenge #5

October 13, 2011 by Ethan · 13 Comments · Life, Student Blogging Challenge, Technology

For the Student Blogging Challenge #5, I made a slideshow using SlideShare about the Sonoran Desert because this is where I live.

Ethan

View more presentations from gamekid

All of my photos came from Flickr, and they all have Creative Commons Licenses.

I think the lizard with the striped belly is the western zebra tailed lizard.

What animal did you the best?

What questions about the Sonoran Desert do you have?

Print Friendly

Tags: ·

13 Comments so far ↓

  • Ross Mannell

    Hello Ethan,

    This is a wonderful animated photo show. I can see each image also includes credit for the photographer. It’s always important to let people know the source of images if you didn’t take them. Creative Commons Licenses really make the difference in selecting images for use.

    In answer to your question, I liked the hawk. they’re incredible birds.

    The Sonoran Desert would be interesting to visit. I have been on deserts in Australia. That’s not that hard to do here when you travel away from the coast. Much of Australia is desert.

    Keep blogging.

    Ross Mannell (your Blogging Challenge mentor)
    Teacher, NSW, Australia

    • gamekid

      To Mr. Mannell,

      Thanks for noticing the hard work of putting the license on the photos.

      I like the hawk too. We see lots of hawks here.

      Is your desert like our desert or is it different?

      From,
      Ethan

      • Ross Mannell

        Hello again Ethan,

        Sorry I have taken a week to reply. I make DVDs and CDs for community groups and schools as a hobby and have been very busy over the last two weeks.

        We tend to have deserts in many ways like yours. Some are sandy, others more stoney, some have scrub plants and there are even large salt lake areas. They all share in common the lack of water.

        One thing of interest in some of our desert areas is the presence of camels as well as kangaroos, small marsupials, snakes and lizards. Before we had roads and railways, camel herders were brought to Australia. Their camels took supplies to isolated towns and cattle properties. In time some camels escaped or were released when they were no longer needed. They can be an unusual sight when you’re only expecting kangaroos.

        Ross Mannell (teacher)
        NSW, Australia

        • Ethan

          Dear Mr. Mannell,

          You have lots of interesting animals in Australia. We have lots of interesting animals too, like the gila monster, a venomous lizard. But, it’s endangered and I’ve never seen one. Although, I heard they once found one on my playground at my school.

          From,
          Ethan

          • Ross Mannell

            Hello Ethan,

            I know of the gila monster and its venomous bite. I’ve always loved natures programs and have seen it featured. I didn’t know it is endangered. The same is happening to a number of Australian animals. A number are already thought to be extinct. We need to protect our animal diversity. Extinction means forever.

            Ross Mannell

          • Ethan

            Dear Mr. Mannell,

            A lot of animals in the USA are endangered. Here is a link to see a lot of endangered animals.

            What animals are endangered in Australia?

            From,
            Ethan

          • Ross Mannell

            Hello again Ethan,

            Australia has a sad record of extinction with the coming of man. When the first aboriginal people made their way into Australia the land was a much greener place with huge animals, although they were already on the way out.

            My favourite of that era was the diprotodon ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diprotodon ). It’s the largest marsupial known to have ever lived.

            In more recent times, many small marsupials and birds have become extinct or are endangered. This has happened because of change of habitat as land was cleared for farming or logging. Introduced predators such as cats and foxes have also had a very bad influence on animal numbers. Some species have now been protected in areas where foxes and feral cats have been cleared and are making a come back but the fight to protect them isn;t easy.

            One animal, another favourite now thought extinct, died out because of hunting. The thylacine or Tasmanian tiger was a marsupial but had some similarities in appearance to a dog. Farmers blamed them for killing their animals so the state government put a bounty on their heads. The last known thylacine died in captivity on 7 September, 1936. Some claim to have seen them in more recent times but there claims have never been proven.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thylacine

            In the US, the passenger pigeon had always fascinated me as it also became extinct due to hunting. I’ve seen estimates there may have been 3 to 5 billion of them once. They became favourite targets for hunters as they migrated. Needing large numbers in order to breed successfully, hunting pushed their so low, breeding failed and by the early 20th century, they were gone.

            These days we are doing more to try to save endangered animals but returning extinct animals remains the things of science fiction, i.e. using salvaged DNA to bring them back.

            As usual, I’ve found you blogging of the highest standard. Well done.

            Ross Mannell (teacher)
            NSW, Australia

          • Ethan

            Dear Mr Mannell,

            Thank you for the great comment. The comment got me thinking about extinction. Why isn’t the fight to keep endangered animals alive easy? How do they get the DNA to bring them back? Are you talking about cloning? I’ve never heard of those animals before, but it’s good information.

            Thank you for the compliment.

            From,
            Ethan

          • Ross Mannell

            Hello Ethan,

            Why isn’t the fight to keep endangered animals alive easy?

            That can be a hard one because it depends on the animals. I’ll give you a couple opinions of mine if that helps. Please note, these are opinions not necessarily facts. When we look on the internet for answers we have to remember some people give opinions that have not been tested scientifically.

            1. We realise too late…
            In an early comment I mentioned the passenger pigeon of the US. It was
            determined they needed huge numbers in order to breed. By the time it was realised they were in serious decline, there weren’t enough left for success in the wild.
            This was also similar to our Tasmanian tiger (thylacine). Considered a pest, they had been hunted till the last remaining one was a male.

            Solution:
            Captive breeding programs have been set up where animals are placed in as natural an environment as possible. They are monitored and kept safe from predators. In Australia, these programs have had some good successes with species being released back into the wild, or at least in areas where cats and foxes have been removed.

            2. Destruction of habitat…
            When an animal loses its natural habitat, it may be difficult for them to breed. There may be something in the environment they need for breeding success of which we aren’t aware. It might be huge areas in which to roam or smells or simply being familiar with an area. Cages or smaller enclosures may simply not be good enough.

            Solution:
            Test tube babies… a female’s ova are fertilised in a lab and the developing embryos are implanted in the female. This has been working with a number of species where breeding has been difficult.

            How do they get the DNA to bring them back?

            Much talk of this comes from a book by Michael Crichton called “Jurassic Park”. He wrote the book with the idea of warning researches of the dangers of playing with DNA and trying to bring back extinct species.

            In it, scientists collected amber (fossilised tree sap) from the Jurassic era when samples were found with trapped mosquitoes. They carefully drilled holes down to the mosquito’s abdomen and extracted the remnants of blood from animals the mosquito had bitten. Because the DNA had deteriorated over the millions of years, they inserted frog DNA to fill the missing code. This ended in disaster for what they hoped would be a major tourist attraction, an island where dinosaurs once again roamed the land.

            The problem was, as Michael Crichton pointed out, the DNA had deteriorated. All biological samples decay over time so, if they were able to harvest any samples in this way, it wouldn’t be complete. If they tried to fix this by inserting DNA in an egg cell, it would be very unlikely to work. Even if it did succeed, it wouldn’t be the original animal because foreign DNA has been added. You would need tissue as intact as possible.

            So what about more recent animals? When you go to biology labs and museums, you can sometimes see animals preserved in jars. Would we be able to take DNA from the jarred animals and use that as it isn’t a fossil but the remains of an animal?

            Most specimens preserved in that way were placed in formaldehyde. This fluid stops the animals from decaying but it isn’t very kind to DNA so again it would be very difficult to use any DNA to insert in an egg and allow to grow.

            In the case of the thylacine (Tasmanian tiger), there is one of a female marsupial’s babies that had been preserved in alcohol. Alcohol is kinder to DNA so it may, at some time, be possible to bring back this animal.

            Are you talking about cloning?

            The first successful cloning of an animal I am aware of was Dolly the sheep in 1997. DNA was harvested from a sheep and inserted into one of the sheep’s own eggs. The egg was then implanted in the mother. The resulting lamb was named Dolly.

            The mother sheep treated Dolly as she would any of her lambs but there was a difference. Dolly was really that sheep’s identical twin sister as they had the same DNA.

            In the same way, if they were able to get a good set of DNA from the thylacine I mentioned, it would be the identical twin of the one in the jar. That is what cloning does. It makes identical twins.

            The problem for Dolly was, she had a number of health issues that may or may not have been caused by the cloning.

            I don’t think we can clone long extinct animals but it is possible if there are living examples left. It would be far better to use the “test tube baby” approach already successfully being used around the world.

            Ross Mannell (@RossMannell)
            Teacher, NSW, Australia

          • Ethan

            Dear Mr. Mannell,

            Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I had to take my time reading it. I like your solutions. I would think zoos might be able to help with breeding programs before it was too late.

            Thank you again for taking so much time to explain and answer your questions.

            From,
            Ethan

  • Visit these – Nov 2011 : Challenge Yourself to Blog

    [...] Xavier, Ethan, Lily, Georgie, Bonnie, Gemma, Kali, Andrea [...]

  • kirthan

    Do you like nature?I love nature
    do you like animals? I love animals

    coment on my blog kindreekirthan.edublogs.og

Leave a Comment