The Kellet’s Whelk, Kelletia kelletii, is a type of sea snail that is common to the middle and southern coast of California, on down to Baja California. This seemingly harmless shelled creature is both a predator and a scavenger, and it has quite a strange feeding apparatus: a long proboscis twice the length of its shell can dangle down to reach its prey that may be hiding in a rock crevice or on the sea floor. It uses a handy rasp to scrape off tissue, and sucks it up into its shell for digestion. Each whelk has only one of these feeding tubes, and you’d be amazed how many creatures have some type of proboscis!
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Like other deciduous larches, the subalpine larch, Larix lyallii, sheds its needles each year. The trees make a grand show up there near the treeline, with their yellow needles and often twisted form. Further down the mountains, they tend to be taller and grow straighter. Fresh new twigs have single needles, whereas older twigs have clusters of needles growing from a little raised knot along the twig. Cones are spherical with long bracts extending out past each scale, giving the cones a shaggy appearance. These trees grow along with their very close and very similar relative, Larix occidentalis, in the upper Rocky Mountains and Cascade range in the northwestern United States and nearby regions of Canada.
The honey locust tree, Gleditsia triacanthos, is easily identified by its combination of thorns, long narrow compound leaves, and long curly seedpods. Found in the eastern United States, this species is actually a legume, in the family Fabaceae. Its long seedpods resemble beans and peas, which are more familiar legumes. Honey locust pods start out green and eventually turn crisp and dark brown, growing up to about 7 inches long. The pods are sometimes eaten by livestock, which digest the pulp and excrete the seeds. Thorns are found on both the trunk and branches of this tree species, again starting out green, but then turning red, and eventually grey. Leaves of honey locust are pinnately divided, similar to mesquite and acacia.
The Regal Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma solare, lives in the desert areas of the southwestern United States and Mexico. It eats mostly ants, and it is immune to ant venom. When disturbed by a potential predator, this little lizard squirts its own blood out of its eyeball with precise aim, targeting his attacker’s face. Apparently this blood has some type of odor or taste that repels the predator. Click the links below the video for more videos, pics, and information on this crazy critter with its unique defense!