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Saving the World’s Fauna and Flora by Elaine a. Powers, Author

Image of dark blue mountains against lighted sky, with words for IUCNOnce a year I travel to an “exotic” location–not to play, but to work with the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, for iguana conservation. The IUCN is a democratic union comprised of influential organizations, both governmental and public, and top conservation experts, in a combined effort to conserve nature and enable sustainable development. There are more than 1300 member organizations and more than 15,000 experts. These members make the IUCN the global authority on the status of the natural world and what is needed to protect it.

I am thrilled to be part of this organization and hope I contribute in my own small way to the important work they do. Their website: https://www.iucn.org/.

Header for website CITESAnother important organization for the worldwide protection of wildlife is CITES, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES publishes a voluntary international agreement that provides a framework for the parties to adopt their own domestic national legislation. So far, 183 parties have joined together. More information is available at: https://www.cites.org/eng/.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's headThirty fun pages all about iguanas!

NOTE: Iguanas are among my very favorite animals because of their intelligence, strength, and when domesticated, their affection toward their caretakers. Their personalities are fascinating and unique, and sometimes I think they can read minds! To learn more about these amazing reptiles, please enjoy our comprehensive workbook and activity sheets, My Unit Study on Iguanas.

To see all of Lyric Power Publishing’s fun, educational workbooks, go to the Our Workbooks tab.

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Does a Dead Scorpion Glow? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

image of a dead scorpion glowing in moonlight
Photo by Terry. Incredibly, even fossilized scorpions glow under UV light!

I was asked if dead scorpions glow by a friend who found a dead scorpion on his patio. I confess, I didn’t know. My guess was that the scorpion wouldn’t glow after death because, I hypothesized, the fluorescent chemicals were actively produced by the living animal.

The part of the scorpion’s body that glows is located in the exoskeleton, the hard, protective covering. Within the cuticle of the exoskeleton is the hyaline layer, which reacts to black light or moonlight. Interestingly, scorpions don’t glow right after molting. The cuticle must harden first. So, is the glowing material part of the hardening process; or is it incorporated into the cuticle during the hardening?

Not much is known about the glowing material.

What is it made of?

Why do scorpions have it?

Several hypotheses have been put forth:

  • Detection of UV light and visible light, so they know when and where to hide.
  • Sunblock.
  • Prey attraction and confusion so they are easier to catch.
  • Communication with other scorpions.

But, back to that original question: Does a dead scorpion glow? Surprisingly, it does!

Lyric Power Publishing is proud of its comprehensive, educational and fun workbooks, like the one below, My Book About the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, a fellow desert dweller of the scorpion;

image of children's workbook cover, with picture of western diamondback rattler and a listing of the activity sheets insideActivity sheets and coloring pages include the rattlesnake description, lifecycle, parts, facts, traits, and diet; cut and paste, compare and contrast, learning about graphs and charts, word search, and a crossword puzzle. It’s a jam-packed rattlesnake workbook!

and it’s science-based children’s books written in rhyme. Learn everything you need to know about rattlesnakes in this fun-to-read book with vibrant, exciting illustrations.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me RattlePeople fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why the rattlesnake should be respected, not exterminated.

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It’s National Parents as Teachers Day and National STEM/STEAM Day

boy and mother with book on table about turtlesEveryone knows that parents are their child’s first teachers. From teaching them how to say mommy or daddy, to counting on their toes, to learning how to walk, parents are the most important teachers of children. As kids grow into adults, they still look to their parents for guidance. On November 8, we’re celebrating that relationship.

While parents are teaching their children, they should include science.  After all, November 8 is also National STEM/STEAM Day. Don’t know what those letters stand for? STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering Math. Education in these four areas is critical for the future. STEAM includes the equally important Arts, including humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media.

At Lyric Power Publishing, LLC, we encourage both kinds of learning, investigative and creative, and we like to make learning fun! Check out our books here and our workbooks here, and enjoy learning about science!

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

38 Pages of Turtle Facts, Traits, Diet, Survival, Label the Parts, True or False, Cut and Paste, Reading Comprehension, Color by Math, Write the Differences, Vocabulary, Word Definitions, Cause and Effect and More!

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Oh, Those Red-Reptile Eyes! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

In the human world, red eyes are usually reserved for people possessed by demons. However, in reptiles, red eyes are not unusual and serve an important purpose.

It’s usual for males of a species to be more colorful than the females, because the females need the protective coloration of camouflage. In box turtles, the males often have bright red irises. That makes it easy to determine that he’s a he. Females have brown eyes. I think this Eastern Box Turtle’s eyes are quite attractive.

close up of head and red eye of make eastern box turtle

Equally impressive are the red eyes of rock iguanas. Both males and females have red sclera. Rock iguanas live on Caribbean islands made of white limestone. It’s thought that the red coloration protects the iguanas’ eyes from damage of the bright sunshine reflecting off the rock. So, the red sclera is like us wearing sunglasses. Everyone needs to protect their eyesight.

close up of red eye of rock iguana

Silent Rocks is published by Lyric Power Publishing, about the disappearing Sister Isle Rock Iguanas. We hope to inspire the native people and visitors alike to do all they can to save them.

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline. These vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. The reduction in population is the result of human activity on their habitat and the threats can only be eliminated by human action.
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Today is National Reptile Awareness Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I once wrote a poem that included the line “reptilian allure.” One of the meeting participants commented that he couldn’t see how reptiles had any allure.

A woman holds a five-foot rock iguana in her living room
The author with five foot rock iguana, Blue.

Even if you don’t feel the need to cuddle reptiles as I do, they are worthy of our admiration. Their body type has been very successful throughout the ages. Their tough outer scales are very utilitarian, providing great protection. They also gleam in the sunlight, which is known as iridescence. I like to use the Rainbow or Bahamian boas as examples.

irredescent bahamian boa
Rainbow Boa Image-by-Алексей-Комаров-from-Pixabay

They do, however, have what we might consider drawbacks in their physiological design. Being cold-blooded, ectothermic, they rely on the environment to regulate their body heat. While man’s construction may seem like a good thing, basking on those nice warm roads is fatal for far too many reptiles.

Many people don’t see the benefits of reptiles, but they serve us in many ways. They help control rodents and the diseases they carry (and let us not forget the pack rats in Southern Arizona that chew the wiring in our cars); they help plants to disperse and germinate, and some of them have provided molecules that have been turned into medicines.

And, our reptilian friends are fascinating. We don’t have to fear them and a good place to learn why is in a book I’ve written called Don’t Make Me Rattle. Everything you need to know about rattlesnakes is in this dramatically illustrated, fun book written in rhyme.

Help protect our reptilian friends and watch the road ahead.

close up of iguana face, feet on road
Image by Akiroq Brost from Pixabay

 

A book cover, with a Native American 'feel,' and a painting of a Western Diamondback RattlesnakePeople fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why the rattlesnake should be respected, not exterminated.

 

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Miles the Water Monitor Wants His Own Day, Too by Elaine A. Powers, Author

photo of a large lizard, a water monitor, on a tree branch
Water Monitor image courtesy of Yarachan from Pixabay

Last post, I wrote about my adventures with script-writing and the short, comedic audio scripts of Conversations with Dudley Dewlap. In this excerpt from “First Noel,” Miles and Molly Monitor decide there should be a day honoring water monitors, because Dudley has March 17 or Green Iguana Day (as he calls it). However, Dudley manages to turn the conversation toward himself, as usual. He does give some pretty good advice and I hope you enjoy this tidbit from the script.

MILES: So what would you be celebrating on Dudley Day?

DUDLEY: I’ve been thinking about that.

MILES: Of course, you have.

DUDLEY: The celebration of the perfection of the green iguana.

MILES: ‘Cuse me?

DUDLEY: All animals should strive to seek the perfection that is the iguana. I realize I need to provide instruction in how to achieve ig-ness.

MILES: You came up with instructions? What are they?

DUDLEY: First, always look for a sunbeam to bask in.

MILES: Sounds delightful. Next?

DUDLEY: Swimming in warm water helps you find contentment.

MILES: I agree one hundred percent.

DUDLEY: Always reach for the top.

MILES: Does is have to be a tree?

DUDLEY: Of course not. Never be content with what you’ve achieved – always try for more.

MILES: Excellent advice. Never tolerate mediocrity.

DUDLEY: Bright colors make you look your best.

MILES: But the predators might see you more easily….

DUDLEY: It’s not easy being green.

MILES: Uh, Dudley, I think an amphibian already uses that phrase.

DUDLEY: Are you sure?

MILES: Yeah, he has his own TV show, has been in movies, quite famous. Dates a glamorous pig.

DUDLEY: Really? Give ‘im a call. We’ll do lunch.

MILES: Any other instructions?

DUDLEY: Be different and people will notice you.

MILES: It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.

DUDLEY: A diet with lots of vegetables is good for you.

MILES: Maybe for you herbivores and omnivores, but what about us carnivores?

DUDLEY: And last, but most important, look for the warmth in people.

There you have it–a short bit from one of the scripts in Conversations with Dudley Dewlap. Click the link below to check it out for your school or theater group. Purchase of any of the audio script books includes performance rights.

Gray book cover, illustrated with two iguanas standing in front of microphones
Funny and educational audio scripts ranging from five to 20 minutes in length

Conversations with Dudley Dewlap: The World from a Lizard Point of View is a collection of short comedy, small cast, audio scripts. Most roles are gender neutral. The primary characters are talk show hosts who discuss various amusing topics. The scripts can be combined or used individually. Additional cast can be used for the sound effects. Along with being entertaining and family friendly, many of the scripts are also educational. The scripts are amenable to radio theater, readers theater, or may be adapted for stage. Approximate running times vary with each script, ranging from 5-20 minutes.

 

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What Good Are Reptiles, Anyway? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

People often ask me what reptiles are good for, especially the venomous ones like rattlesnakes. Besides being an important part of the ecosystem and controlling rodents that spread diseases to people, several very interesting drugs have been developed from reptilian venoms. Venoms are known to affect the nervous or circulatory systems, and these properties have been exploited to produce effective treatments. Let me introduce you to four of them.

First is Captopril, an ACE inhibitor (angiotensin converting enzyme), that was approved by the FDA in 1981. This drug acts through vasodilation to reduce hypertension, treating congestive heart failure after myocardial infarction and preservation of kidney function in diabetic nephropathy.

Captopril is based on a protein found to be a peptide in the Lancehead Viper (Bothrops jararaca),Molecular Formula C9H15NO3S.

Molecular Formula C9H15NO3S.

Next is a drug that was developed from one of my favorite venomous snakes, the rattlesnake. Rattlesnake venoms have components that affect their prey in different ways. One way causes anticoagulation, and the victim bleeds to death. The anticoagulating properties of the venom from the Southeastern Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius barbouri) led to the drug Eptifibatide. Eptifibatide is used for anti-coagulation therapies to reduce the risk of heart attacks. However this drug is only used in severe cases, because of the possible side effect of thrombocytopenia, a condition where platelets are unable to aggregate at all.


Eptifibatide molecular formulaCourtesy of www.animalresearch.info

The third drug derived from reptiles is Exenatide, one of my favorite venom drugs. It is a synthetic version of Exendin-4, which is found in the saliva of Gila monsters (Heloderma suspectum), one of my favorite lizards. Gila monsters are not only colorful, they are the only venomous lizard in North America.

Exenatide is used to treat Type II Diabetes. It works by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin for the control of blood sugar levels. Its molecular formula is C184H282N50O60S.

Molecular formula is C184H282N50O60S.
                                  Courtesy of PubChem

 

With this fourth drug, we are back to snakes. Hemolytic venoms from South American pit vipers, Bothrops atrox and Bothrops moojeni, produced Batroxobin. Batroxobin’s valuable action is to cleave or break up fibrinogen, similarly to similar to the effect of Thrombin. Thrombin’s action on fibrinogen creates fibrin, which is necessary for stopping the loss of blood as a result of injury. It’s the body’s bandage. The Batroxobin from B. atrox is called Reptilase and is used to stop bleeding. The B. moojeni version is used to break up clots as Defibrase. When used as part of Vivostat, baxotroxobin treats blood before surgery to produce clots. These clots are collected and then dissolved until a fibrin glue is created, that can then be used on the patient during surgery.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. We often dismiss animals we fear or don’t understand, not realizing their importance to their ecosystems and the environments we live in, and what they may offer to our lives, such as these important medicines.

To learn about the very interesting rattlesnake, in a vibrantly illustrated book written in rhyme (to make learning fun) please see my book, Don’t Make Me Rattle.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

People fear rattlesnakes because they don’t understand them. Come inside and learn about these amazing snakes, how they help people, and why the rattlesnake should be respected, not exterminated.

Here at Lyric Power Publishing, science is very important–but we love to make science fun! We have developed wonderful, supplemental educational workbooks and activity sheets for children, to be used by teachers, parents and tutors. To learn about the fascinating and intelligent large lizards, the iguana, please see our workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

To learn about the many differences between tortoises and turtles, please see the wonderfully illustrated and written in rhyme, Don’t Call Me Turtle!

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle