Science at Home: Multicoloured Flowers, ‘What crap will lizards eat?’ and the birth of Mothra!

I grew up on a diet of Attenborough documentaries(where I learned BBC does documentaries like no other), ‘In the Wild with Harry Butler’(where I learned to always put the rock back and drunk pygmy possums are easier to get along with) and some wildlife show that had Lorne Greene narrating and ‘Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring as it’s theme music but I can’t find reference to it anywhere (which taught me slow motion wildlife, Lorne Greene and classical music are pretty epic together). By the way, if anyone can remember what this show was called let me know!

My kids on the other hand are getting large doses of ‘Deadly 60’, ‘Barney’s Barrier Reef’ and a rather cool show called ‘Backyard Science’. The really great thing about ‘Backyard Science’ is that it shows kids doing experiments themselves and discovering how stuff works. It wasn’t long before Gabby was pestering me to try out an experiment I hadn’t seen. It involved taking a white flower with plenty of stem, splitting the stem in two and putting each side of the split into a separate cup. You then put water and different food colouring in each cup and wait overnight. This was our result:

Awesome! Of course the great thing about this is then Gabby asked why it happens. Then we had to find out!(it was almost like I was some kind of responsible parent or something)

Around the same time Isaac and I were encountering skinks in the backyard and he decided that we should feed them as the pesticide barrier or ‘Death Zone’ around our house meant they had fewer insects to eat. So in the spirit of scientific experimentation and being too lazy to chase moths around the back yard I checked what was in the fridge.

Left over Lasagne.

I can’t begin to describe the sacrifice we were making for science, just as words cannot do justice to the lasagne made in our household. Thankfully we didn’t need much as skinks are very small.

We placed the lasagne in places we’d seen the lizards basking and waited. It didn’t take long for the lizards to start chowing down! We were hooked!

The following weeks we tried sausage(eaten), cheese(eaten) and watermelon, filmed with inappropriate music below…

Yuh I know, it’s *just* like ‘Jurassic Park’! (this skink is smarter than T-Rex though, I’m pretty sure it can find something to eat even if the the prey stays still)

The kids are also curious about bugs we find, we’d look up different things uncovered from under rocks or beaten senseless against an outside light .

We’d seen some really big cocoons(10cm long) poking out of holes in trees lately and the kids and I were wondering what emerges from them. During a recent party at a friend’s place we stumbled across another cocoon which was full of what is scientifically known as (orange)goo. The occupant was sitting right next to it… MOTHRA!

To demonstrate how impressed Mothra was at being disturbed while it recovered from getting out of the cocoon it deployed a large tube from its underside and squirted the same goo a quite impressive 50cm or so. The kids didn’t love that part much.

Gabby really wanted to know what it was that had sprayed her with goo, turns out it was a Wood Moth.

I guess the point of all this is that kids really do value knowledge in a way I think many adults forget to do. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routines of work and ‘civilisation’ and forget that there’s a whole lot of stuff going on around us that is worth knowing even just for the sense of wonder, if not the reward of understanding how the pieces of the puzzle of life go together.

Kitteh: A Predator Meets His Match!

Here’s the latest Kitteh. I’m finally getting down to the nitty gritty of predator/prey tussles, so many tropes…

For best effect please imagine the narration is read by Kenneth Branagh.(make sure he gets especially tremulous on the last bit)

Kitteh Revolutions!

There’s been quite a response in the palaeontological blogosphere about the two new dinosaur documentaries on the block, Dinosaur Revolutions and Planet Dinosaur.

Down here in darkest Tasmania I’ve been able to catch at least parts of these shows on the web, though not as much as I’d like.

The Kitteh cartoons are all about dinosaur documentary tropes and while I really wanted to do something about Revolutions in particular, Kitteh has never been about a specific show, otherwise his stereotypes wouldn’t be stereotypes…er… you know what I mean.

I’m also quite conscious that in these heady days of the interwebs I have more than passing contact with some of the people directly involved in creating these shows. Has this affected Kitteh’s response? A bit, though not to preserve the sensitivities of those people, but more because I’ve heard their stories about the production.

I’m also a fan of artists who worked on the show, like David Krentz and Angie Rodrigues, the latter especially for her beautiful and completely believable take on patterns and colours which for me is worth the price of admission.

Attempting to capture narrative almost entirely with action was a bold step I could only admire, possibly because there were times I wanted to slap Kenneth Branagh during Walking with Dinosaurs..(“Yes we can see the diplodocus has arrived! SHUT UP!”)

Working in animation, I have small understanding of the trials and tribulations of trying to get a show funded and in production, the compromises that arise during production and how much work is involved.

Being an animator, I could see where they coming from when they referenced Warner Bro’s cartoons. To be completely honest, while there’s a sensible part of me saying “But that’s not Science!” it was mostly slapped down by the gibbering fool wishing they could do “Rabbit Seasoning” with therapods.(or at least have a fossil being excavated suddenly leap up and start singing?)

In the end Kitteh could really only do one thing, a bit of a tribute that finds the fun and wonders if a new stereotype may emerge from Revolutions….

Kitteh in TerrorDactile!

Kitteh makes it’s return this week with more science documentary tropes and a special guest star courtesy of Dave Hone of Archosaur Musings, who supplied the highly accurate pterosaur reconstruction.

In other Kitteh news Illustrator Tricia of Tricia’s Obligatory Art Blog has created Kitteh fan art in the form of a (slightly disturbing) life reconstruction!

Toddle over to Tricia’s Flicker for a look at Tricia’s reconstruction of Kitteh and his Mouse prey, as well as Tricia’s take on one of Kitteh’s natural enemies.

Somebody stop me…. even more Adventures in Prehistoric Documentaries!

I’ve been negligent as I haven’t thanked Dave Orr of ‘Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs’ for encouraging me to post the first Prehistoric Kitteh cartoon.

I’d sent the picture to him as a little gag because we’d been discussing Prehistoric Documentary tropes and possibly doing a series of posts about them. I was actually a bit reluctant to blog it, surely it wasn’t really all that funny? After all I’d chucked it together in ten minutes.

In the end Prehistoric Kitteh garnered more hits than the international release of the Linheraptor artwork!

So without further ado, here’s the latest episode.