Encounters with Megafauna

Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs, California USA, 30 September 2016

With Jeni Bate of Skyscapes for the Soul.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

A few days before, we saw the remains of prehistoric megafauna that had been trapped in the La Brea Tar Swamps.  There are still a few places you can see them though such as here at Galleta Meadows.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Their brown colour is an evolutionary adaption for living is a desert environment.  Indian and African elephants by contrast are grey because they evolved to live in black and white forests before the age of colour. You can see this in old films and nineteenth century photographs.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

This appears to be a small group of gomphotheres which are usually very hard to find in the wild.  Not sure of the actual species though.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Getting up close and personal with a gomphothere.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

A very large locust or grasshopper and a scorpion.  Quite a bit larger than a human.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

They were just sitting there sizing each other off, hardly moving at all.  Well if they were moving at all, I didn’t notice it.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have got quite so close.  I understand scorpions can move quite quickly when they have a mind to.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Grasshoppers and locusts are essentially the same but they are locusts when they swarm.  Younger readers may not remember bygone decades driving through a plague of locusts when they would hit your windscreen like hail.  These days the thoughtful agricultural chemical producers have solved this problem by eliminating something like 90% of insects world-wide in the last forty years or so.  Before long they could well take this wonderful profit-based progress even further and eliminate all flowering plants.  Then we will all be able to experience the extraordinary privilege of living in a desert.

In the meanwhile, Californian residents must have interesting times in locust plagues.  Having one of these coming through your car window could make quite a difference to your day.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

There was also a group of agricultural workers.  They are protesting about low rates of pay for agricultural workers in an insufficiently regulated economy and involved in a form of industrial action known as a go-slow.  They are taking this very literally.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

You will notice that behind to the right is a tall thin sculpture from the prehistoric era before wifi.  It is called a telegraph pole.  No-one is sure what a telegraph was.  Some kind of precursor to wifi, it seems, using fender telecasters and some kind of drawings.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Here are a couple of ground sloths but they were too preoccupied to notice me.  When photographing wildlife you have to be quite sensitive to the situation and not for example wander right up to a ground sloth or a bear to take a selfie.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The largest ground sloths come in at four tonnes and six metres long (20 feet).  I’m not sure how big this one was and I didn’t weigh it.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

You might think it is surprising to see a Chinese dragon in California but their range has been increasing.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

You can see it is shimmying along through the desert sand and this is because it has burrowed through all the way from China.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

I didn’t see it breathing any fire but if you sneak up behind it and touch its skin, you can see that it can get very very hot.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Some say that the Chinese Dragon is casting a larger shadow these days but I didn’t really notice that while I was here.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

That massive tongue looks almost like the trunk of an elephant so perhaps  dragons evolved into elephants.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

This looks to be just an ordinary elephant. Perhaps it escaped from a zoo.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

There were also a couple of locals here, who appeared to be having navigational difficulties with their vehicle.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

I asked them what they were doing there but they didn’t want to talk to me or even acknowledge me so I went off in a huff.  (A huff is a somewhat impractical motor vehicle that is a cross between a Hummer and a Fiat 500).

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8 comments on “Encounters with Megafauna

  1. David P. says:

    Murray, you might enjoy this episode of Huell Howser’s “California’s Gold” where he interviews the sculptor, Ricardo Breceda. (The segment begins about 42-minutes into the program.) Huell also produced several episodes from the Salton Sea and Slab City. Did you visit the geothermal mudpots when you were there? I was born in Brawley, just south of the sea, so this was my childhood playground.
    https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2009/09/30/anza-borrego-road-trip-with-huell-howser-148/

    Like

    • Murray Foote says:

      Thanks for that David. A very interesting video. Looks like there are a few more sculptures since we went there. Yes, we did get to the mud volcanoes. You can see where we went on the map on the previous post. Still also maybe six posts to go, if so, four from Salton Sea and two from Joshua Tree National Park.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David P. says:

        (I fiddled with my browser and was able to click on the map.) It’s hard to imagine that back in the 60’s, the Salton Sea was considered Palm Springs South.

        The mud pots are exposed as the sea evaporates. The earth’s crust under the mud is very thin at just over a mile. For perspective, I believe the thinnest crust on earth is one mile thick somewhere under the Atlantic ocean.

        Huell Howser’s programs are archived at Chapman University. His series on Borrego Springs, Slab City, Salvation Mountain and the Salton Sea are fascinating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Murray Foote says:

        I’ll have to see if i can find those. In the meanwhile, I have been reading Salt Dreams by William de Buys and Joan Myers for background on my next post.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very funny, loved the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tobias Mann says:

    You had me chuckling a few times over with this one. Finding humor in this day in age is becoming harder and harder. I’m glad none of those beasts took a swing at you, though if they had I’m sure you would have walked away with a tail grander than they.

    Look forward to your next post. Cheers, Tobias

    Liked by 1 person

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