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    • May 6, 2019

    pair of horned lizardsWhat’s the strangest thing you’ve done in the pursuit of scientific knowledge? Oliver Hay tasted blood squirted from the eye of a live horned lizard specimen sent to the Field Museum from California in 1891. While we advise against going to such lengths, we do recommend getting to know the horned lizards, genus Phrynosoma (from the Greek: toad-body). Known colloquially as “horned toads” or “horny toads” due to their round, flat body shape, spiny scales, and bony horns encircling the head, horned lizards have many unique traits worthy of study.

    Of the 22 species in the genus Phrynosoma, 4 occur in California. Phrynosoma mcallii, the flat-tailed horned lizard, is federally endangered and is restricted to sandy habitat in the Colorado Desert. P. blainvillii, coast horned lizard, is a California Species of Special Concern found in the south and central Coast Range, and inland to the Sierra foothills. P. platyrhinos, the desert horned lizard, is found throughout the Colorado and Mojave deserts (southern subspecies) and in eastern Modoc and Lassen counties (northern subspecies). Finally, P. douglasii, the pygmy short-horned lizard, is a tiny species whose range barely dips into the northeastern corner of our state.

    side view of a horned lizardHorned lizards are relatively easy to observe; rather than fleeing predators, they may rely on a variety of avoidance mechanisms including camouflage, partial burial in sand, or defensive postures that make them difficult to swallow (but impressive to photograph—see photo at left). Of the California species, only P. blainvillii is known to exhibit the blood-squirting defense mechanism, so keep that in mind the next time you reach for a horned lizard. Many Phrynosoma species depend on ants as their primary food source, a factor which may be contributing to their decline in regions where invasive insects are replacing native harvester ants.

    Have you witnessed any incredible horned lizard behavior? Send us your observations of P. mcallii and P. blainvillii via our link opens in new windowOnline Field Survey Form-- and feel free to attach photographic evidence; your picture could be featured in our next Photo of the Month!

    Photo credit: California Department of Parks and Recreation (Eric Hollenbeck), Joseph Belli

    Categories: Education and Awareness, Taxon of the week
    • April 30, 2019

    The link opens in new windowCNDDB Online Field Survey Form is a fantastic tool for observers to submit their findings to us. Often times, reporters include pictures of species and habitats along with the forms. Over the years, we have come across great photo submissions and want to start highlighting a few each month. Here are the April photos of the month!

    Rana boylii – foothill yellow-legged frog
    Submitted by Lauren Dusek of Stillwater Sciences

    foothill yellow-legged frog on a rock

    Lauren came across 2 adult foothill yellow-legged frogs perched on a rock near the Van Duzen River in Humboldt County and was able to snap a photo of one of them. Currently, Rana boylii is a candidate species for the California Endangered Species Act and has been a species of focus for the CNDDB for the past year. Thank you Lauren, for your great submission!

    Erythronium citrinum var. citrinumlemon-colored fawn lily
    Submitted by Daniel D. Palmer of the California Department of Transportation

    lemon-colored fawn lilies

    Daniel found these amazing plants in Trinity County along a road cut under the canopy of a hardwood, conifer mixed forest. Erythronium citrinum var. citrinum is a California Rare Plant Rank 4 plant found in northwestern California and up into Oregon. Thank you Daniel, for this amazing picture and submission!

    Do you have some great photos of rare plant or wildlife detections? Submit them along with your findings through our link opens in new windowOnline Field Survey Form and see if your photos get showcased!

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight
    • April 29, 2019

    An exciting botanical discovery has recently been made! A new species of spineflower, Chorizanthe aphanantha (Irish Hills spineflower), has been formally described after its discovery on the Irish Hills Natural Reserve in San Luis Obispo County. This species was found growing in rocky openings of serpentine chaparral and can occur with several other rare, serpentine-endemic taxa. So far, this new species has only been found on the Irish Hills Natural Reserve and nowhere else in the world!

    The CNDDB botany program and the California Native Plant Society’s Rare Plant Program will be working together over the next few weeks to review this species for addition to the CNDDB Special Vascular Plants, Bryophytes, and Lichens List and to the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants.

    For additional information about this discovery, see the link opens in new windowCity of San Luis Obispo’s webpage.

    Categories: Education and Awareness, Taxon of the week