Thursday, September 27, 2012

All Nuts for Nuts!

Once a shy creature, Cronopios are rapidly spreading across the North American continent, and they are nut-crazed!

The little mammal from the movie Ice Age is called a Scrat, or Saber-toothed Squirrel. Now when the movie-makers made this movie, they completely made up Scrat. He was supposed to be a fictional creation. Well, recently, it turns out God really did make such a creature! It was first discovered as fossils until a living population was discovered in September 2012. Before 2012, these squirrels were hiding in the remote forests of the Taiga in northern Alaska until they realized how many acorns could be collected when living in close quarters with humans. The “Scrat”, called Cronopio by the scientists, is roughly a foot and a half in length, including that bushy tail. “Scrat” are squirrels from the Ice Age that have a complete hanker for nuts. As a matter of fact, fossil skeletons of these guys have been found still in the position of “chasing” after their treasured nuts. The “Scrat” uses its long incisor teeth to break open the shell of a nut after grasping it in their paws (if they can hold onto the nut, that is). The brain of this little mammal is only about the size of a walnut, often resulting in bad decision making. “Scrats” will also clean their nuts before either eating or burying it so it can find the nut later. These squirrels are not very social. The only time they seek other squirrels is during mating season. Autumn precaution: NEVER GO OUTSIDE AND EAT NUTS. “Scrats” have been known to steal nuts from humans and will even go to the extent of ganging up in packs to tackle humans with nuts. Despite them not being so bright, they know how to open unlocked kitchen and car and can open refrigerators. So don’t leave nuts exposed, especially during the fall. Fortunately, these nut-loving rodents were easy for my photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater to take a photo of one. We simply put an acorn on the ground and waited about two minutes before one showed up (you may have noticed the teeth on the individual in the photo aren't all that long and the tail isn't all that fluffy, this is because it's a sub-adult). These animals are definitely nuts for . . . well, nuts!

Written by: P. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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