Creatures of Light Exhibit with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

These creatures light up.   We don’t.   Yesterday at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, we saw animals with bioluminescence and biofluorescence, from tiny fireflies to strange creatures in the ocean depths.

Let’s see the Creatures of Light

Let’s explore!  That is a giant firefly.   You will notice that it is dark in here, so pictures of us with these lighting creatures just doesn’t work well.   So what does this bioluminescence mean?    Bioluminescence is visible light generated by a living organism through a chemical reaction.  Eighty percent of all bioluminescent groups are in the world’s oceans.   Not so many on land. There are some fungi and insects, but no flowering plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians or mammals that glow.   Look at this glowing mushroom.

Glowing mushroom. With Eider duck

It exists in eastern North America, where it grows on decaying wood in the forests.   This is a huge model of the mushroom.   They are really much smaller, just a normal mushroom size. And a glowing variety of a millipede.

Variety of millipede

We have never seen these, but they are fascinating.   And a dark New Zealand cave with simulated glowworms.

Cave with glowworms

In the cave, fungus gnat larvae drop sticky “fishing lines” from the cave roof.   Glowworms give the light and the sticky lines attract and catch food.    Most glowing creatures are found in the ocean.    Ponyfish also glow.  Here is the sign that explains a little about the glow.


Ponyfish are called Sapsap in the Philippines, where there are caught in huge numbers for soups and stews.   Guess they don’t glow when cooked.   These jelly fish, if poked or jostled, light up their rim.

These jellyfish also can light up

The jelly fish have both bioluminescent and fluorescent lighting.   This female anglerfish is a serious predator.

Female anglerfish

Have you ever heard of siphonophores?


Well, here is one and do you know how big they can grow?    Some are 130 feet long (40 meters).  That is longer than the largest known blue whale.   They attract fish for food by twitching and using light.     And the dinoflagellate became our favorite.   This model is huge, but a real dinoflagellate is about the size of the head of a pin.

Dinoflagellate. Really the size of a pin head.

When something bumps into a dinoflagellate, the impact triggers a chemical reaction that ends in a burst of light.  This is very active in Mosquito Bay, a quiet lagoon on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico.   When you touch the waves at night, your hand leaves a trail of sparks in the water.   The more activity, the more bright lights.   We have never seen this, but mom, we want to.   Can we go to the Caribbean??   There is so much more to see here and you will learn so much.   The exhibit runs until June 10, 2018.   When it leaves Denver, it may be coming near you.   We hope you see this exhibit.  In Denver, the exhibit is free with your paid admission to the museum.    But beware, as the ducks said, you will want to visit everywhere and see some of these creatures for yourself.   But take the risk and visit this exhibit.


The Vikings Come to Denver

The Vikings are here.   The Museum of Nature and Science in Denver has a special exhibit on the The Vikings.

Let’s learn about the Vikings

Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck went to this exhibit.   We learned and saw so much.   We actually went twice.   It really is good.   Who are the Vikings?   The people that lived across Scandinavia were not a unified group.   There were warriors, explorers and merchants, but most were farmers.   The word Viking was used for an activity.   Someone was out on a “viking.”  That could be a commercial trip or a raid.   Much jewelry was on display.


Different styles seemed to be from different regions.  Also many items were brought back from raids or commercial trips.   These items are from afar.

From many places

The cross has Irish origins, the cowrie shells are from the Red Sea while the red and white beads are from the Black Sea area.   The ladle was used during church ceremonies.   As we mentioned most people were farmers and this pig, or boar, was a great source of meat.

Boar living on a farm

These people seemed to care about personal appearance, as these grooming items were found.

Grooming items

Many items were found in graves.

Buried with important items

A male was buried with these favorite items.   The Scandinavia area has very cold winters.   Early ice skates were functional, but much different than those we use today.

Early ice skates

Here is what was found in the tomb of a warrior in Birka.

Preparing for battle

Some people were buried with amulets.


Amulets guaranteed the gods’ protection.   Runes were iconic symbols from the Viking age.

Rune tells a story

This one tells a story.

The story

The Vikings expanded their world.   Some wooden figures were brought back.

Brought home

There was much silver.


Some from raids and some was payment for traded goods.   Much silver was melted for jewelry.   Some was kept for local purchases.   Many merchants had scales so pieces of silver were broken off bracelets or other jewelry for payment.   This is a reconstruction of a small Viking boat.

Smaller Viking boat

After leaving this exhibit, this reproduction of another Viking ship caught our attention.

Viking ship

This exhibit will be at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science from March 10 through August 13, 2017.   We hope you see it here or when it comes to your city.

Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed Exhibit

Sunday I, Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

We can learn about the  Maya culture.

We can learn about the Maya culture.

Sunday was the last day for the exhibit Maya:  Hidden Worlds Revealed, and our moms took us to see the exhibit. It was wonderful.

We liked this stela dedicated to the Quirigua’s most important king, K’ah’ Tiliw Chan Yo’at meaning, “Fire burning Celestial Lightning God.

Stela for most important Quirigua king

Stela for most important Quirigua king

By holding a jaguar headed throne made at the dawn of the universe, he aligns himself with the creative powers of the Maize God.  All the artifacts had signs explaining what we were seeing.  Quirigua is a Mayan site in southeast Guatemala.

This is a Mayan altar.

Mayan altar.  Used for special occasions

Mayan altar. Used for special occasions

The altars commemorated important occasions and served as the settings for elaborate sacrifices, including human offerings, to the gods.

Another side of altar.  Human sacrifices?  Not duck sacrifices!

Another side of altar. Human sacrifices? Not duck sacrifices!

Throughout the exhibit, we watched short videos.  They were very interesting.

This artifact was displayed in a case.

Maya King

Maya King

The accompanying sign explains the importance of this statue.  Copan ruins are in western Honduras near the Guatemala border.

About king

About king from Copan

Did you know that the Mayan people invented the bouncing rubber ball?  They did. The Spaniards were so impressed with the bouncing ball and the games played that they took a ball team to Spain to perform for Spanish royalty.  The ball was made with liquid from the rubber tree.

Collecting latex from rubber tree

Collecting latex from rubber tree

To make a bouncing rubber ball, the Maya cooked latex from the rubber trees with juice from the morning glory vine.   Experts shaped the elastic mixture into spheres or pulled it into strips that they wound into balls.

This rubber ball is very heavy.  It weighs 8 pounds.

8 pound rubber ball

8 pound rubber ball

We also saw clothing, cooking utensils, knife blades, tombs and jewelry.  The Mayan exhibit has left Denver now and is going to Boston.  If this exhibit comes to your area, you would like to see it.  This was on the front of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Promo for Maya exhibit

Promo for Maya exhibit

Please go to any exhibit that comes to your town.  We see many of them and they are all very interesting.  You will enjoy visiting these exhibits.

Museum exhibits are wonderful

Museum exhibits are wonderful