zachary cava

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Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater) skull I found by a woodrat midden the other day. I had no idea these lizards have such cool teeth! (their diet is almost entirely vegetarian)

©Zachary A. Cava

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Painted Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis pictus). It was amazing how the blue scale coloration seemed to magically appear and disappear as the snake breathed! (For a video, go here.) Nghệ An Province, Vietnam.

©Zachary A. Cava

*Originally posted on the Field Herp Forum: Vietnam: Part 2

Fossil seed ferns (Alethopteris sp., Macroneuropteris scheuchzeri, and Neuropteris ovata). 300 m.y.o. St. Clair, PA. 185mm. 

One of the coolest fossil hunting experiences I’ve had. The amount of detail preserved in these fossils is incredible—some appear as if the leaves had just fallen! Exploring this area was like being transported back in time. Looking at a fossil like the one pictured here, it is not difficult to imagine the ancient carboniferous swamp coming back to life. 

For me, fossils are all about stress relief, and keeping things in perspective; a sobering—yet comforting—reminder of how briefly we are here, and where our priorities should lie. When I feel overwhelmed, it is relieving to recall how petty our day-to-day struggles are in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on.

©Zachary A. Cava

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Remains of an “outdoor museum” built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933. The concrete enclosures originally held fish, turtles, snakes, and other creatures. The museum was only open during the summer, and so captive animals were released at the end of the season.

But apparently some animals have decided to stick around! The concrete foundation still holds water, and was teeming with frogs (Lithobates clamitans) and tadpoles when I visited.

©Zachary A. Cava