Friends of Big Bend is spending the day with colleagues across the state who are dedicated to the protection of the land, water and creatures of Texas. Thanks to everyone who has made a workplace giving donation to Friends of Big Bend through EarthShare of Texas! All of these great groups appreciate your support! ... See MoreSee Less
Here are some photos of the four* dominant rattlesnake species in the Big Bend region. Rattlesnakes are severely misunderstood, elegant animals. They are a very important and beautiful part of the Big Bend ecosystem, but are usually not treated as such. The rattlesnakes of this area are as variable as the Chihuahuan Desert landscape itself, with certain species preferring certain types of habitat and have adapted traits such as color and pattern to help them survive in that specific habitat. While rattlesnakes are indeed venomous, they are not vicious or aggressive and are unlikely to bite "just because." All animals, even humans, when approached in a menacing way are likely to defend themselves! Is it all that surprising that if you advance on a cornered animal that they will defend themselves in the best way they know how? Only a small percentage of rattlesnake encounters end in a bite, and in none of those bites was the snake the instigator. Now that doesn't necessarily mean the person bitten was consciously prodding the snake into biting. For instance, a person steps over a log or rock and steps directly into the resting coil of a rattlesnake and gets bitten. Who is at fault? In this instance, the rattlesnake is just as surprised as you are, so is anyone actually at fault? It is up to the hiker to maintain a constant awareness of his/her surroundings, knowing that they are hiking in an area that has rattlesnakes and be constantly on the lookout! A simple check before stepping could have avoided this ill-fated encounter. Most rattlesnakes will rattle and warn you of their presence (how very considerate of them), but there are some instances where they may not actually rattle. Rattlesnakes are ambush hunters and may sit in one place for months at a time waiting for a mouse, lizard, bird, rabbit, etc to stroll by. If you want to understand why this can influence a rattlesnake not to rattle, have a look at this incredible video.
This encounter with the bear was best avoided by the hunter remaining silent and knowing that his camouflage and de-scenting would likely leave him unnoticed and unharmed. Had he not stayed silent and still, not only could the bear have attacked him (not necessarily likely) but his entire hunt could have been jeopardized, scaring off potential game. Same thing goes with a rattlesnake. They rely on their excellent camouflage to keep them hidden and will avoid giving away their position if the situation is right.
Just remember, you're visiting their home! They're not going to stop you from being there, but they have their space and you have yours. Be safe hiking!
*There are two other species of rattlesnakes in the area, but are unlikely to be encountered in Big Bend. These are the Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) and Desert Massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus edwardsii). (4 photos) ... See MoreSee Less
What's the most exciting thing happening at Big Bend National Park? The expansion and revitalization of the paleontology exhibit, of course! Starting in Fall 2011, Friends of Big Bend National Park set out to raise $1.25 million in the coming years to create the Fossil Discovery Exhibit - a new exhibit spaces, an interpretive trail and improved picnic and parking areas at the existing Fossil Bone Exhibit site. We are pleased to have already raised over $590,000 toward this excellent addition to the park's resources.
But why fossils? Big Bend National Park has produced over 35 Cretaceous dinosaur species, the most of any national park in the country. Over 1100 fossil species from plants, invertebrates and vertebrates have
been discovered here and the park is one of few public lands in the world that contain the K/T boundary - strata that record the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of modern mammals. However at present their story is not being told to the visitors who come to the park today. This exhibit will interpret the park’s rich paleontologic and geologic history in engaging and immersive ways, engaging the public in the fossil story.
The exhibit site will be at the current, outdated Fossil Bone Exhibit site along Highway 385, the main road into the park. The Friends have already paid for a site plan, a shade ramada and wayfinding signage that will show visitors a taste of what is to come in that spot. The design work is underway and many fossil casts (including several dinosaurs) have already been chosen to represent the wonderful fossil diversity within the park. You can click here to see a sneak peek at Lake Flato's design for the new Fossil Discovery Exhibit. This exhibit will offer visitors an entirely new day of exploration in the park, and offer much needed amenities on the long drive from Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction.
From sea creatures to dinosaurs to mammals to the KT Boundary, the paleontological history of the park is rich, and we are excited to share it with visitors. Come out and see the changes underway soon - and watch out for that Alamosaurus!
What kinds of creatures lived in Big Bend?
From Alamosaurus to Kritosaurus, the Big Bend area played host to creatures great and small all throughout prehistory. Click here to learn all about the many creatures who made this area their home.
Want to see your license plate dollars at work?
Park staff has begun initial improvements at the Fossil Bone Exhibit site, thanks to the generosity of our Big Bend license plate holders. In addition to the newly installed picnic tables under the new shade ramada near the Fossil Bone Exhibit parking lot off 365, there are also restroom facilities. The temporary exhibit space has also been updated, providing a peek at what is to come. Through license plate dollars the Friends have paid for revised signage to improve the interpretation of the area, as well as a site plan to completely overhaul the area and create a new and lasting exhibit appropriate to Big Bend's major fossil finds.
How can I help?
The Friends welcome donations to this exhibit. This exhibit will be the most significant addition to the park’s visitor services system in decades. The paleontology exhibit will attract new visitors, families in particular, to come see what the park has to offer.
Donations can be mailed to:
Friends of Big Bend National Park
PO Box 200
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
ATTN: Fossil Discovery Exhibit Campaign
If you wish to make a large contribution, contribute stock or make a foundation/restricted family fund contribution to this project, please contact Executive Director Courtney Lyons-Garcia to make arrangements at email@example.com or 512-529-1149.
Thank you for your support!