Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Outdoors during the holidays

Schedules tend to be open during the holidays, and friends who are usually at work or school can visit. During the nice weather we'd had recently we've had visitors that have enjoyed the scenery and activities here.

On December 22nd a group of us celebrated the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year.

We walked along the Lindheimer trail that is named for a famous early Texas botanist.

Here a we sit within a circle of Lacey oaks.

Laurie, a friend of mine, came out Saturday (December 29) with her daughter Carlene and her 3 children, Caitlyn 13, Peter 12, and Cameron 7. We started our adventure at the dinosaur tracks.

Comparisons of human foot size with the track size shows that the dinosaurs that made them were much larger than humans. Acrocanthosaurus, a meat eater that lived approximately 100 million years ago when our area was a sea shore, was about 25 to 30 feet from snout to tail tip. It probably weighed 2 to 4 tons, and had a mouthful of serrated teeth. It looked somewhat like T-rex but was considerably smaller and had longer arms for its size.

Next stop was fossil hill where many different kinds of fossils can be found.

The most common fossils are oysters, and they are the dominant fossil in this bed. There are other types of shells from critters in the same group, the Pelecypods (which include clams). A few snails, or Gastropods, and an occasional urchin, or Echinoid, are also found.

Commonly oyster shell fossils are found opened and the top and bottom shells are completely separated. Every once in a while an oyster is found with the top and bottom sealed together like this one in Caitlyn's hand.

Here is one where the two halves of the oyster were found together but when picked out of the clay bed they came apart. There is clay in the middle.

The limestone that was used to pave our road has lots of fossils in it and Caitlyn, Carlene, Peter and Cammy look for specimens as they return to our vehicle.

We visited fields where the Scimitar-horned oryx live. This type of oryx, which can no longer be found wild in its homeland, lived along the southern edge of the Sahara desert where grasslands existed. The region no longer supports grass due to drought and human development. They are part of the Species Survival Program and doing very well at Selah.

We stopped at Hes' Country Store on the way home, and Cammy decided that her stuffed penguin needed to have his picture taken with her and the wooden Indian on the porch.

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