March 2012 
Golden Retriever Puppies 
Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the
Hi-Desert Nature Museum
In This Issue
Exhibit Reception
Spring Kids Craft
Science Saturdays
The Mojave Road
Winter Lecture Series
Earth Day 2012
Man's Best Friend
Support the Museum
YV Animal Shelter
Weaving with Dog Hair
Dog Catacombs
Exhibit Reception Desert Warrior
We are presenting "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," an exhibition of artwork contributed by local artists made from recycled or reused materials.  This exhibit is designed to make people rethink our throw-away society by sharing the local community's innovative and often surprising use of discarded items.  In conjunction with this exhibit, the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council will be displaying artwork from their "Desert Wildlife" show.  (Shown here is "Desert Warrior" by Karine Swenson.
Both exhibits will be on display from March 10 through April 27.

Opening reception Friday, March 9, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Music by Ritmo Loco, Afro-Cuban Jazz Quintet
Unveiling of the Buy-a-Brick Program
Free to the Public and Refreshments will be Served
Spring Kids Crafts Spring Kids Crafts
Celebrate spring with an hour of fun filled crafts for kids!  This event is FREE but pre-registration is required.  Space is limited so make sure you reserve your spot by signing up at the museum's reception desk, call the museum at (760) 369-7212 or click here to register online.
Saturday, March 31, 11:00 a.m. to Noon
Science Saturdays Senses
March is SENSES month for Science Saturdays!  These programs will ignite your children's curiosity by presenting information and performing experiments relating to biological and physical sciences.  All programs will be facilitated by our Museum Educator. It is recommended that children be of school age for this program. 
11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
FREE! No pre-registration required
March 10: Senses (Eyes & Ears)
March 24: Senses (Nose & Tongue)

2nd Wednesday Program

The Mojave Road Mojave Road by Casebier

Today the Mojave Road is a 130-mile interpreted four-wheel-drive stretch of the old historic wagon road stretching from the crossing of the Colorado River eastward to old Camp Cady.  Author Dennis Casebier of Goffs will present the history of this celebrated road, beginning with its origins as an Indian Trail, the development of the road as a recreation trail, use of the road today by more than 2,000 vehicles a year, and show images along the Mojave Road, both historical and current.  The book, Guide to the Mojave Road, with which the traveler can follow the entire 130 miles and learn the history of the adjacent country along the way, has been in print since 1980 and is now in its 4th revised edition.  Copies of the latest edition, which features GPS readings along the road, will be available at the presentation.
Wednesday, March 14, starting at 5:30 p.m.
$5 donation to the Morongo Basin Historical Society at the door
(Please note that 1st Wednesday Programs have now been moved to
2nd Wednesdays for all future programs)
Winter Lecture Series Kevin Wong
Kevin Wong, photographer and Desert Institute Director, will present "From the Equator to the Desert...Photography Through the Eyes of a Traveler."  Kevin Wong has explored the Southwest, Mesoamerica and South America as a photographer, amateur cultural anthropologist and treasure hunter.  For 11 years he lived in Ecuador aboard a salvage boat searching for a sunken Spanish galleon.  When he decided to leave treasure hunting and return to the U.S., he took a series of buses from Quito to California, stopping along the way to photograph small villages and anthropological sites.  Finally settling in Joshua Tree, Kevin dedicated himself to Southwest Desert landscapes and portraitures.  He earned a certificate in Desert Field Ecology from UC Riverside. 
Thursday, March 22, starting at Noon
FREE and beverages will be served
Earth Day 2012 
Cheetah Pup
Threatened Species
Cheetah Pup, Namibia
In honor or Earth Day, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum will celebrate the diversity of life on earth with a day of activities that will inform, educate and entertain visitors.  Local experts will be on hand to provide demonstrations for turning waste into black gold for your garden, growing your own food, and recycling.  This family-oriented event includes live animal presentations, kids' activities, and live music and dance.  There will also be a variety of vendor booths featuring local artists and environmental education resources.  This event is made possible through the generous support of the Town of Yucca Valley and the Mojave Desert & Mountain Recycling Authority. 
Saturday, April 21, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
FREE Admission!
Man's Best Friend Dog Breeds
Our contemporary dog is a subspecies of the gray wolf, domesticated about 15,000 years ago.  Remains of domesticated dogs have been found in Siberia from about 33,000 years ago, but none of these early lineages seem to have survived the last glacial period.  The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and they perform many roles for people such as hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, companionship, and aiding the handicapped.
Did You Know?
* Most breeds are just a few hundred years old, artifically bred for specific functions.
* The only sweat glands a dog has are between the paw pads.
* A dog's hearing is 10 times more acute than a human's.
* Studies have proven that people who own pets live longer, have less stress, and have fewer heart attacks.
* Dogs can be traced back 40 million years ago to a weasel-like animal called the Miacis which dwelled in trees and dens.  The Miacis later evolved into the Tomarctus, a direct forebearer of the genus Canis, which includes the wolf and jackal.
* A dog's whiskers are touch-sensitive hairs called vibrissae, which can actually sense tiny changes in airflow.
* The smallest dog on record was a Yorkie who weighed just 4 ounces.
* Smell is the dog's dominant sense, and a large part of their brain is devoted to analyzing scents.  In tests some dogs have been able to pick up chemical solutions that form 1 or 2 parts in a trillion, which is equivalent to us smelling one bad apple in 2 billion barrels.
* The source of a dog's great smelling capability is their wet leathery nose which acts like velcro catching molecules of scents.
* The Museum of the Dog, run by the American Kennel Club, is located in St. Louis, Missouri.
* Chocolate contains a substance known as theobromine (similar to caffeine) which can kill dogs or at the very least make them ill, so don't share chocolate candy with your dog, especially puppies. 
Support the Museum
Museum Logo
The museum has two active fundraising campaigns to enable us to continue providing quality educational programs and exhibitions for residents and visitors.  Help preserve our local history, art, culture, and natural science by becoming a museum member, or purchase a copper plaque to mount at the entry way of the museum with your personalized engraved inscription.  Information on these programs is available at the museum's reception desk or on our website 
Special Thanks to Contributor Level Members Laird & Valerie Davis!
Yucca Valley Animal Shelter
Looking for a new best friend?  Look no further than Yucca Valley's Animal Shelter where you can choose from a variety of adoptable dogs and cats.  The animal shelter also holds licensing and vaccination clinics. 

Licensing & Vaccination Clinic
Thursday, March 15
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Yucca Valley Community Center

Click here for location and hours of operation, and to view a list of adoptable pets
Weaving with Dog Hair
Coast Salish Weaving
The oral history of the Coast Salish people - a collection of tribes that have inhabited the Pacific Northwest and the west coast of Canada for more than 10,000 years - includes mention of a pomeranian-like dog that was bred specifically so its woolly hair could be used in textiles.  Analysis of protein fragments from blankets more than 85 years old, one of which was obtained in 1803 by Lewis and Clark, seems to support the stories.  Goat hair was most commonly used for weaving, but in a situation when the goat hair supply was limited, the yarn was made to the right thickness by adding dog hair. 
Dog Catacombs
Saqqara, Egypt
The excavation of a labyrinth of tunnels beneath the Egyptian desert has revealed the remains of millions of mummified animals, mostly dogs and jackals.  The Dog Catacombs, as they are known, date to 747-730 B.C., and are dedicated to Anubis, the jackal-headed god of embalming and the dead.  The catacombs were first documented by French archaeologists in the 19th century, however they were never fully excavated.  A team is now examining the tunnels and estimate the catacombs contain the remains of 8 million animals.
Visit the Museum
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms ighway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley. 

For more information on our programs and events contact the museum at (760) 369-7212 or visit our website at 


To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs and recreation classes visit the Town's website at