Ep. 9 Slimy Forest Friends
Written by Kenneth on October 25, 2022
Tree of the week: Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides- met-a-se-KOY-a glyp-to-stro-BOY-des)
This ancient tree was once thought extinct as an abundance of fossils could be found in the Northern Hemisphere with no living tree to match. It seemed to disappear after the Miocene era roughly 5-25 million years ago. However In 1943, a tree was discovered that could not at first be identified, and due to complications with world war, 2 got little attention until the year 1948 when scientists were able to connect the dots. Suddenly this tree once thought extinct was living in a small grove estimated to only be about 1,000 trees large.
The Hoyt arboretum received 50 seeds in 1950 and within a couple of years had the first Metasequoia to produce reproductive cones outside of China. This was the first time that had happened in millions of years.
This fantastical tree can grow up to 200 feet tall and is unique in its title as a deciduous conifer tree. It loses its needles in the fall like most of its broadleaf neighbors. It’s hypothesized that this mutation came about as a defense against the long cold winters of the North. This amazing tree is also Oregon’s official state fossil.
Snails, our slimy forest friends
Sliming along on the forest floor, in your garden, in the park, and just about everywhere, you can find snails. Love them or hate them they play key roles in many environments. Its many unique evolutions have brought it many interesting characteristics such as an unmistakable shell, its razor-sharp tongue, and even the mixture of its slime.
A snail can have around 2,640 teeth
“The land snail… devotes about half its… brain to taste and smell affairs. It divides the Job neatly between it’s two upper pairs of tentacles: one upper pair is waved in the air to pick up smells, while the second lower pair is dipped tongue-style into promising substances as a final check before ingestion”
Snails usually have a spiral-shaped shell that is wound around a spindle. This is the snail shell which they retract their soft bodies into when there is danger. Because of this, they are asymmetrical, and this asymmetry is mirrored inside their bodies. The snail shell is always constructed in the same way. The direction of the spiral is typical for a particular species. Due to the energy needed to produce slime and move some snails won’t move more than a few meters from where they hatched over their entire lifetime. Their muscular “foot” and slime can balance on a razor’s edge and not be hurt or fall. They can be found upside and scaling trees using their sticky slime as adhesive. They use their shell and slime to hibernate when things get too dry. They also only sleep at night.
Fig 1.: Lentz, A. S. (2021, June 7). What is a Dawn Redwood Tree (Detailed Facts)?https://www.homestratosphere.com/what-is-a-dawn-redwood-tree/
Fig 2:Experts, K. T. (2020, November 27). Discover the Beautiful Dawn Redwood Tree. Keil Tree Experts, Inc.https://keiltreeexperts.com/discover-the-beautiful-dawn-redwood-tree/
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