The Amazing Microscopic World of Plants by Terry Foxx

Why do plants have hairs?

As we walk along a trail, we can observe the diverse world around us: trees, flowers, birds, reptiles, rocks, clouds. What an amazing world it is: colors, sounds, textures, smells. But there is another amazing world not easily seen by the human eye, a microscopic world. A glimpse at that world is seen through the microscope or magnifying glass. A weed in your garden, which you gleefully pull up and put under the microscope, may turn out to be quite beautiful and unique.

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The Amazing Microscopic World of Flowers by Terry Foxx

Our goal at the Nature Center is to get people out-of-doors to see the diversity around them, to become connected to nature. Our cell phone, computers, TVs and other electronic devices have taken a hold upon us and our children to the point we remain inside and ignore the out-side world.

However, there is one piece of technology at the Nature Center that holds the fascination of everyone, child and adult. It is the digital microscope. Every time I walk into the Center, I see a child or adult slipping a rock, piece of wood, snake skin or other item onto the base to magnify. For me, that microscope and my digital hand lens have been the window into the microscopic world of flowers and an opening to the diversity and busyness of that world not visible to the human eye.

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Clam shrimp under the microscope

An excited family came to the nature center on Friday with an interesting discovery. While hiking in Pueblo Canyon, they spotted a pool of water full of something orange and moving! They put some in a bottle and brought it to look under our HD video-microscope. We were all shocked to see little animals zipping around at lightning speed!

The teeny creatures they found are clam shrimp. If you look closely at the video, you can see their clam-like shape. Clam shrimp are a type of crustacean, closely related to fairy shrimp, and a bit more distantly related to the shrimp we eat at the table. Like many shrimp, they appear pink or orange due to the presence of carotenoids, which are a group of orange pigments that also give carrots their color.

A huge thank you to the family for sharing their unique discovery with us at the Los Alamos Nature Center! We encourage everyone to bring these natural finds to us and have a closer look under our microscope!