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Word of the Week: Crepuscular

Today’s word is:

crepuscular

Pronounced: crep-PUH-skew-lur

Sciency Definition: Relating to twilight, or descriptive of activity occurring during twilight.

Or I could have said: Dawn and dusk.

What’s it do? Animals, insects, fish, and all other living things that are “crepuscular” are most active during the times between day and night, a time known as twilight. (Not to be confused with that vampire movie.) Temperatures during dusk tend to be milder in hot climates, and the dimmed light provides a certain measure of cover to animals that are usually preyed upon. On the other side of it, the lower light helps predators stay under cover as well! Examples of crepuscular animals are deer, fox, many species of snake, and plenty more. One of my all-time favorite crepuscular critters are lightning-bugs (also known as fireflies)!

Example sentence: I was quite nocturnal in my college years, but now I find that I prefer the crepuscular times of day.

Fireflies in the forest, by Quit007.

Word of the Week: Passerine

Today’s word is:

passerine

PronouncedPASS-er-in

Sciency Definition: A member of the order Passeriformes, the largest group of the class Aves.

Or I could have saidPerching bird.

What’s it do?  Members of the order Passeriformes are the perching birds, which include more than half of the living species of birds. They each possess feet adapted for perching or clinging. “Song birds” are all passerines but not all passerines are song birds; song birds just have the best use of the muscles used for creating vocalizations (the syrinx). Some song birds, instead of singing, create an incredible range of sounds including clicks, croaks, and mimics of sounds they hear in their environments.

Example sentence: Despite being categorized as passerines, crows and ravens do not use their syrinx muscles to produce songs.

Baby scrub jays might be passerines, but they have a song only a mother could love!

To see a video of one of the greatest passerine mimics on the planet, click here to watch a video of the Australian Lyrebird in action.

Word of the Week: Caldera

Today’s word is:

caldera

Pronounced: cal-DARE-uh

Sciency Definition: The large crater formed when the center of a volcano collapses during an eruption.

Or I could have said: Giant hole in the middle of a volcano.

What’s it do?  Calderas can form incredible lakes, like the one found at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Crater Lake was formed when the volcano known as Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed in upon itself. Over the nearly eight thousand years since the eruption, the crater has filled in with rain and snow water, creating one of deepest and clearest lakes in the world.

Example sentenceThe Old Man of the Lake has been bobbing in the waters of the Crater Lake caldera for more than a hundred years!

 

Aerial view of Crater Lake in the winter, by Zainubrazvi via Wiki. Wizard Island sits in the western section of the lake.


Word of the Week: Sclera

Today’s word is:

sclera 

Pronounced: SCLARE-uh

Sciency Definition: The white, fibrous tissue that covers all of the eyeball except the cornea.

Or I could have saidEyeball.

What’s it do? The sclera gives the eyeballs their shape and protects them from damage when your 4 year old pokes your 2 year old in the eye just to see what happens. The muscles that control the movement of the eye also attach to the sclera, and the sclera also keeps all the important organs of the eye in place so our depth perception and focal abilities remain intact. (Did you know that eyeballs have organs?)

Example sentence: Don’t fire until you can see the sclera of their eyes!

Sclera, via Rhcastilhos on Wiki.


Word of the Week: Macrophyte (Formerly: Video of the Week.)

So my computer had to go into the shop for a while and after being computerless for a time, I lost a lot of my interest in froofing around on the internet for hours at a time. I kind of can’t stand watching videos online at the moment (unless it’s The Daily Show), so now for something slightly more educational:

Word of the Week!

This segment will [mildly] stretch your brain and give you completely arbitrary information that you can share at dinner parties, on the bus to work, or with your significant other when they’re not expecting it. Each week I’ll share a word and its definition, and challenge you to use at least ONCE at SOME point in the week – and then post what you did in the comments section. Or, rather, what your friend or family member did after you said it. The more absurd, the better.

Today’s word is:

macrophyte

Sciency DefinitionA macrophyte is a “macroscopic” (meaning that it can be seen with the naked eye) aquatic plant, emergent (rooted in soil but most of the vegetative growth above waterline), submergent (all plant matter beneath the waterline), or floating (floating).

Or I could have saidWater plants.

What’s it do? Macrophytes provide cover and forage for aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates, and supply the water with oxygen. (They’re really important.)

Example sentence: What kind of macrophytes are in this sushi?

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