Thursday, August 13, 2009

throwing things off roofs

Yup. Definitely going to hell.

There's a guy here who's hanging around and taking photos. We have a bunch of gliding species that we've caught over the past few days that we chucked off the roof tonight so Anand could take pictures. I feel sorry for the poor frog (Hyla rosenbergii). He got really tired of jumping by the end. In the beginning though I accidentally gave him too much of a boost and ended up tossing him/ helping him jump into the planter. I really like holding him; he has this cool webbing on his toes and it feels funny when he crawls on my hands. With all the webbing he has a really good grip on my hand. We also tossed a gecko (Tachydactylus) which unfortunately lost its tail.

*potentially gross to certain people alert -- skip if you don't want to read this* I hope you never have the misfortune to assist in the caudal autotomy (aka tail loss) of a lizard. I thankfully did not assist in it this time. Lizards have weak planes in the middle of their tail vertebrae with muscles that end right at the fracture planes of the bone. When the lizard's tail is even slightly caught, it will break off at these planes and the muscles will contract to stop blood loss. It's still not pretty and you always feel terrible for the lizard. Also, the tail wriggles for about a minute after its loss to distract the predator. So not only do you feel terrible, but you have a wriggling piece of a lizard in your hand.

*you can come back now* We also tossed a parrot snake off the roof. These guys aren't actually a gliding species but they do exhibit a kind of cool behavior when they fall. Kris and I (who were doing the tossing) did not know the best way to handle the snake so we didn't do too many trials with it. It's rear-fanged so unless it chewed on us, we'd be fine, but still better safe than sorry. While we're on the subject of dangerous snakes (which parrot snakes are not -- don't worry, Mom), Paul (another field assistant who had the misfortune of being dubbed "Fetus" in Costa Rica since at the time he was under half Anthony's age, even more unfortunately for him, the nickname has stuck and big time) caught and brought back a small coral snake. It's very pretty. And no, I'm not crazy enough to play with it.

Other than that, there was more lizard searching. I was not that successful this morning. That was partially to do with the fact that I was searching by the tower when what I can only assume is every Goodyear employee in the Western hemisphere decided to come by. Ok, I exaggerate but there were at least 50 people on the tower and they just kept coming. Also the hotel people keep asking us if we're with the Smithsonian which makes me think we shouldn't be there. Oh well, only one more field day left anyway. This afternoon was pretty exciting -- we found another pentaprion! We couldn't catch it but we did get good film. :)

So that's it. Tomorrow is our last day in the field. Kind of sad, kind of welcome. I'm happy to be getting back home. These mosquitoes are merciless. 3 bites on my toes and one on the ball of my foot during last night's dinner alone!

- we threw a snake, a frog and a lizard off the balcony -- no herp is safe from the curiosity of the photographer and herpetologists
- lizard tails come off -- see body for details
- I'm not crazy enough to play with coral snakes
- tourists are not conductive to finding lizards

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