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Arctic/Desert

The Same, But Different

Pull on your snow boots or strap on some sandals. It is time to visit the extreme environments of the Earth! The desert and the Arctic environments seem to be a marvel of contrasts.

Hot, hot, hot. Cold, cold, cold.

Sand, sand, sand. Snow, snow, snow.

But look closer, lean in, and peer down into the details. Nature may hold a surprise for you.

Slither, Scamper, Flap, and Flutter

With no winter parka or wrap-around sun glasses, how does life survive in the extreme environments of the Arctic and desert? In the Alaskan Arctic, temperatures may get as low as -50⁰ F (-45.5⁰ C). In the Sonoran Desert, they are often as high as 118⁰ F (48⁰ C). From a majestic eagle to a miniature bumblebee, every inhabitant must be specialized. 

A frog who can freeze solid then thaw out and hop on along? A cactus that is as heavy as three hippos? Critters who are packed with pee? Life in the extremes will send shivers up your spine

Standing Strong in the Extremes

What features does a snowy owl have to help it hunt in the Arctic cold? Why doesn’t a duck’s feet freeze? How does a roadrunner’s head not overheat in the desert temperatures? 

Explosions of Life

In a real barren desert, or in the actual frosty tundra, everything must wait, wait, wait. It all looks dead, waiting until the water, light, and temperature are just right. Here in the Arctic/Desert exhibit, a time lapse video lets you swing through the seasons and get a close-up view of the life that calls these extreme environments home!

Whether you prefer the frosty north or sunny south, as you stroll through this exhibit you will notice:

  • Animals who use physics tricks (like convection and conduction) to keep cool
  • What sound does a roadrunner really make
  • A color explosion from barren to blooming

Did you know?

During its lifetime, a single saguaro cactus can produce 40 million seeds! Saguaro fruit provides food and water for wrens, coyotes, javelina, tortoise, bats, woodpeckers, and humans.