Stink Fights, Earwax, and Other Marvelous Mammal Adaptations

Last year I was given the incredible honor of writing a series of five nonfiction picture books for Nomad Press about animal adaptations (they will be published in August 2020). I knew right away that I wanted to go beyond the simple adaptations we think of right away – cheetahs are super-fast so they can hunt down a meal and turtles have a hard shell to protect themselves. I wanted to find and write about the little-known adaptations that make people go, “Whoa!” Researching and writing these books was SO MUCH FUN.

The education market doesn’t generally make a big deal out of cover reveals. But, the covers of these books (thank you Katie Mazeika!) are brilliant. So I am going to throw myself, and these books, a little cover reveal party over the next five weeks. Today, it’s the mammal book: Stink Fights, Earwax, and Other Marvelous Mammal Adaptations. Ta da!

In this adorable book there are many mammals with marvelous adaptations, including the giant anteater. So these animals, which can be as large as golden retriever, have that long snout. That snout houses a long tongue. TWO FEET long to be more accurate. Oh, it gets better. The tongue is like a long strand of spaghetti and is covered in sticky saliva small, backward-pointing spines to help the anteater better slurp up termites or ants (once they’ve used their long, sharp claws to tear open a mound). They can flick that tongue in and out up to 150 times PER MINUTE. They don’t even chew. They just swallow – up to 30,000 insects in a day. D-lish!

Exploring

On a Colorado-clear-blue-sky day, on one of those magical mornings blanketed in new snow, I go exploring, high in the mountains.

At first the forest seems quiet when there’s snow – it’s still. Almost like everything has stopped to sleep until spring. And yet…there’s the soft trickle of water below the ice on the creek. The solitary call of a bird. The rustle of the breeze through the treetops. And crisscrossing the new snow are tracks – the echo of critters who have recently passed by. Moose. Elk. Squirrel. Rabbit. Mouse. I saw their fresh tracks. But I didn’t see them. Perhaps they saw me.