Yes, you read the title of this blog correctly. There are actually two species of sea slugs that can (and DO) remove their own heads. This process of voluntarily shedding a body part is called autonomization. Other animals shed tails or limbs. But a head???
Perhaps a better way to explain this is that the slug sheds their body and the head moves along on its merry way. When the slug head leaves behind its body, it also leaves behind most internal organs, including the heart. A new heart regenerates in about a week and the whole body in about 20 days. The left-behind body does not grow a new head but can still move for over a month.
Researchers aren’t yet sure why these slugs do this, but one theory is that they shed their body when it is infected with parasites. That is one of the coolest, and strangest, adaptations out there! See the video and learn more here.
The other day at lunch during home learning, one of my sons looked out the window and yelled, “Bobcat!” We get a lot of wildlife through our yard, but in over a decade, never a bobcat. And yet, I’ve learned to pay attention when he says he sees something. Sure enough, an enormous, beautiful bobcat passed right by our window. It sauntered into the yard. We ogled.
This cat was an amazing site. On average they are twice the size of a housecat (and much faster!), but this one was larger than that, probably a male. It was healthy, with an amazing coat. Given the time of year, I wonder if it was on the prowl for a mate. I should be so lucky to see kittens in early summer.
Bobcats can live in a variety of habitats, yet not often in areas of heavy snow (like their close cousin the lynx). They’ve adapted to the suburban setting, too. While part of me is sad that this creature must share space with humans, I am so grateful that it is thriving. Though I do worry about the wild rabbits in our yard…
Cue the music…happy birthday to you…
Yes, the aliens have landed and my new picture book science series about space publishes today. My hope is that they help make space science engaging, enjoyable, and fun for kids. That’s one reason I chose to have the Universe as the narrator. After all, who knows more about space science than the Universe herself? And, of course, there are the aliens.
If I’m being completely honest, the aliens are my favorite part of the series. I have my editor, Andi Diehn, to thank for allowing me to include the aliens, and the illustrator, Hui Li, for bringing those guys to life. Even as I wrote the dialogue for those two, I didn’t have mental image of what they might look like. As soon as I saw the first sketches, I was in awe. I LOVE them – they’re perfect! So…come travel the universe with our aliens and learn about the Earth, moon, sun, and stars!
Oh, the sun…it’s slowly, slowly, slowly sticking around longer each day in the northern hemisphere. Daily temperatures are a little warmer. Spring is near. At last.
Our sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy and yet, for us Earthlings, it’s obviously the most important one. Not only does it keep all the planets in the solar system in orbit, it gives us heat and energy and light. But what is most amazing about that to me is that our sun is not too far away from Earth, it’s not too close…it’s JUUUUUST the right distance. In fact, Earth is called the Goldilocks planet for that reason. If we were any closer or further away from our sun, life on this planet would be very different (or not even possible at all!).
If that isn’t amazing enough, the potential to use the sun’s energy to power the world is limited only by our imaginations and willingness to do so. In fact, the sun radiates more energy in an hour than we use in one year! See? One more reason to love and admire the sun! There’s a lot more to learn in The Sun: Shining Star of the Solar System, which publishes next week (March 15!) with its space companions The Earth, The Moon, and The Sun.
If you are lucky enough to look up at a dark night sky, it will shine with stars. They look like tiny dots of light. Lots of them. Yet have you ever considered how many stars are out there? Before writing this picture book series I hadn’t really focused on the number. In our galaxy alone, the Milky Way, there are 100 billion stars. Of course that is only an estimate – a low one. And on the high end of the estimate there may be as many as 400 billion.
Hold onto your head. There are that many stars in just our galaxy. Now, consider that there are approximately 200 billion galaxies in the universe (that we know of). That’s a lot of stars out there.
Stars have fascinated humans since ancient times. We’ve used them to imagine pictures in the sky – constellations, like giant dot-to-dots. We’ve also mapped the night sky to help us navigate (looooong before technology) and to determine agricultural planting and harvesting schedules. The Stars: A Gazillion Suns makes its way into the world on March 15 along with its 3 series companions (The Earth, The Moon, and The Sun) – come travel the universe!