Monday, March 4, 2013

Ambassadors for the natural world

Emory alum David Mizejewski gets really wrapped up in his work.

The wildlife author and spokesman for the National Science Foundation has spent his career trying to reconnect people to the natural world. As the opening speaker for a recent National Science Teacher Association conference in Atlanta, he brought out a host of "animal ambassadors," including a Burmese python, above, and a juvenile red kangaroo, below.

Kids, in particular, need to spend more time exploring the outdoors, he says. “Parents are worried about the dangers out there, but there are more risks associated with a sedentary, indoor lifestyle."
Strange animal facts are his forte: for example, when your dog jumps up on you and tries to “kiss” you when you get home from work, it’s not primarily that he’s happy to see you; it’s genetically coded behavior inherited from their wolf ancestors who, as pups, would go to the den’s opening and jump up to lick regurgitated food from their parents’ mouths.

Owls can’t turn their heads all the way around a la The Exorcist but they can rotate their necks as much as 270 degrees in each direction. And an American alligator’s bite can have as much force as “having a pickup truck dropped on you.”

Read the full article by Mary Loftus in Emory Magazine.

Photos by Emory Photo/Video.

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