Cumberland Times-News

Columns

November 3, 2012

Science talks feature mammals from Asia

In November, my Science Sunday talks (at 4 p.m. in Compton Science Center) will be on Asian mammals. Our half-hour presentations are in Compton 224, a large classroom next to the Pendulum on the second floor.

I have been giving nature presentations on Sundays since February as a substitute for our Planetarium shows. (The new planetarium facility (MLC) will reopen in February 2014.)

Following my public nature talks, any of the audience are invited to tour our Science Discovery Center where a wonderful collection of preserved animals from five continents are on display.

This is the Cavallaro Collection donated to Frostburg State by Dr. Joseph Cavallaro, a retired medical doctor. Dr. Cavallaro is a native of Westernport and graduated from Bruce High School. He now resides in West Virginia.  

Both the talk and tour are free. Some visitors that have seen our collection compare it to the displays at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.  

So consider coming on Sunday. Be sure to bring a camera for photographs of the specimens with your children or friends. Our specimens, always poised, have no problem with flash cameras.

Many children often have hamsters as pets. These are Golden Hamsters found mainly in war-torn Syria. A much more common hamster in Asia is the Desert or Dwarf Hamster.

These hamsters could fit in the palm of your hand. Pale brown on top and pure white underneath, these hamsters live in burrows, lined with camel or sheep hair. They prefer millet or grass seeds but will settle for beetles or locusts.

 A larger desert mammal is the Saiga, in between a goat and antelope. Our Saiga specimen in our Discovery Center has a notched nose, resembling “Mork” from 1970s television.

During the bitter winters in central Asia, the Saiga’s hair turns white and becomes much thicker. Saiga congregate in herds of up to 2,000 to migrate to feeding grounds in the winter. The herds are one sex only, with the male herd ahead of the female herd.

Another desert mammal is the Asiatic Mouflon sheep, the ancestor of our domesticated sheep. As other sheep, females and their young form herds while the males are either solitary or form bachelor herds.

Mouflon in Asia weigh about 120 pounds. The males’ sharp horns curve in back of their heads and are up to two feet across.

Farther south in Asia are the Sloth Bears. All black except for white fur around their neck and the top of their chests, Sloth Bears subsist on ants, termites and fruit.

With their five inch long claws, they pull out insect nests from openings in trees. Then the Sloth Bear closes its nostrils and through an opening between their front teeth slurps up the insects and honey.

The sucking sound they make can be heard up to 300 feet away. Our Sloth Bear at the Science Discovery Center is a “greeter” that you will pass by as your enter.

Other animals from my presentation include Giant Pandas, Grey Wolves (the ancestors of our domestic dogs), Long-Tailed Macaque (ground dwelling monkeys), Bornean Orangutans (largest of primate tree dwellers), Tigers (the largest cats) and Asiatic Elephants.

SKY SIGHTS IN NOVEMBER: The moon is now leaving the evening sky, rising later each night. On Nov. 11, the crescent moon will appear near the brilliant planet Venus in the 6 a.m. dawn.

On Nov. 15, the crescent moon will appear near the planet Mars in the 5:45 p.m. southwestern dusk. The evening moon will appear half full on Nov. 20.

On the night of the full on Nov. 28, the moon will appear close to the bright planet Jupiter. On the mornings of Nov. 28 and 29, the brilliant planet Venus will appear close to the planet Saturn in the southeastern 6 a.m. dawn.

Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at rdoyle@frostburg.edu . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Peanuts and Cracker Jack beat any foam finger

    Times have changed, and for the better, as this week marks the third year in a row NFL training camps have opened and have not taken center stage in the cities of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. That, of course, is due to the play of the three baseball teams that inhabit said cities, the Orioles, the Pirates and the Nationals — two of whom hold first place in their respective divisions, with the other one entering play on Wednesday just 2 1/2 games out of first.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore

    At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.

    July 20, 2014

  • Mike Sawyers and his father, Frank Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim

    The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hugo Perez Columnist, son are range finders, but where are .22 shells?

    We feel pretty lucky on this side of the Potomac to have a nice shooting range to utilize for free and within decent driving distance.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014