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Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the Hi-Desert Nature Museum

Penguins on PurpleFamily Fun Day:

Animal Kingdom!

Enjoy a wild day at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum learning about animals, animals, animals!  This special event offers fun animal-themed activities for all ages including hands-on crafts, face painting, and a scavenger hunt.  Get up close and personal to bugs and touch our Madagascar hissing cockroaches.  Learn about hermit crabs and view live crabs in our Crabitat!


Wild Wonders Animal Show

11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. in the Yucca Room

See a live alligator, kinkajou, and more!!


Saturday, February 9

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Cry for the LandReduce, Reuse, Recycle

Exhibit Silent Auction

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is holding a silent auction at the museum through April 20th. This exciting fundraising event features 30 works of art made from recycled materials representing a wide range of styles created and donated by local artists.  Some highlights of the auction include a fascinating Styrofoam figure by Cathy Allen, a metal sculpture by Simi Dabah reminiscent of a spider, "Hi-Desert Treats" by actress Ann Magnuson, and a 6' tall flamingo sculpture by Troy Pence. The artwork is currently on display at the museum and available for bidding.  (Shown here: "Cry for the Land," a sculpture made from plastic shopping bags by Linda Soto) 


Click here to view the artwork online and make online bids; All proceeds from the sale of the auction items will support the museum and its educational programs. 

Tortoise Intaglio Winter Lecture Series

The Tortoise Intaglio Mystery

In the Mojave Desert, northeast of Barstow, there lays a puzzling enigma referred to as the Tortoise Intaglio.  It was so-called because the design is of a giant tortoise with an arrow-like dagger through its upper body.  The "newness" of some parts of the design has led some observers to suspect that it may have been created by the men during military training under the command of General George S. Patton in the early 1940s, or possibly by someone from nearby Fort Irwin Military Base.  Yet, there are parts of the Intaglio that appear to be older.  John Rafter, author/investigator, has visited and studied the site for nearly five years and during that time has made surprising additional observations, as well as uncovered some possible ethnographic support.  


Thursday, February 21, starting at noon
FREE to the public, and coffee will be served 

Christmas Craft GirlSpring 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 23 
11:00 a.m. to Noon 

MagnetismScience Saturday


Most people could easily identify a magnet, but explaining what it is can definitely be a bit trickier. A magnet is defined as an object or a device that gives off an external magnetic field, but that still does not quite explain how something becomes magnetized. It all comes down to the tiny particles inside called atoms. Interestingly, magnets are not just little devices we can hold; we actually live on a giant magnet! The Earth has a huge magnet field because the core of our planet is filled with iron. Spend this magnetizing Science Saturday learning how magnetism works all the way from atoms to compasses.


Saturday, February 23

11:00 - 11:30 a.m., FREE! No pre-registration required

Navajo TextileMBHS Presents

Navajo Textiles & Native American Flutes

During this fascinating lecture, John and Ann Yonushonis will share their extensive collection of Navajo rugs and handmade flutes. They will relate the history, mythology and the connection of music and songs to weaving and the Dine (Navajo) people. Ann's landscape photographs highlight the land of the Navajo. John Yonushonis, a musician, will also play the flute during the program and answer questions.


Wednesday, February 13th, starting at 5:30 p.m.

$5 donation to MBHS at the door

Mustard Plant
Invasive Mustard Plant

MBCA Lecture

Flowers versus Weeds:

A Race for Resources

Do you want to know the difference between a weed, an alien plant, an exotic plant, and an invasive? Are you interested in the current threats to wildflowers at Joshua Tree National Park? Join Josh Hoines, who will address invasive species and their threat to biodiversity, the economy, and the direct threats to the park. Invasive species are considered the largest threat to biodiversity, second only to habitat loss. Invasive species and their consequences are estimated to cost the American public $138 billion each year. Josh is a vegetation ecologist with 12+ years experience working with local, state and federal partners to protect and preserve habitats and open space. Currently, he manages the vegetation program at JTNP.  


Tuesday, February 12th, starting at 6:30 p.m.

FREE to the public and hot cider will be served

Presented by the Morongo Basin Conservation Assoc.

Earth Day 2013
Earth Day, April 20

Become involved in our Earth Day Celebration and Conservation Fair! Do you have information or products related to living green and protecting the environment, or hand-made arts and crafts you'd like to share with the community? The museum is currently accepting applications for Earth Day vendors. Please stop by the museum Tuesday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and talk to Stefanie. Bring an example of your product and pick up an application.


Time through History

During most of human history, people told time by the sun. Around 2000 B.C., the Sumerians divided the day into 24 hours and began to develop ways to track passing time. The earliest time devices were the sundial, hourglass and water clock. Sundials tracked time by the shadow cast on a disk by the pointer, called a gnomon. The water clock was an evenly marked container with a spout in which water dripped out. The diminishing water level noted the time. The hourglass measured the amount of sand streaming from one bulb to another. A huge advance occurred in the 1300s when mechanical clocks, using weights or springs, began to appear. At first they had no faces or hands, rather they struck a bell every hour. Later, clocks with hour and minute hands were developed. In the 1400s, it was discovered that coiled springs unwinding at a controlled speed could move the hands of a clock, which made smaller clocks, and later watches, possible. In the early 1800s, Eli Terry developed machines and patterns to mass produce clock parts. This drove the price of clocks down and allowed common people to own one. In 1967, the atomic clock was invented, which uses the oscillations of cesium-133 atoms to tell time. In 1999, scientists developed the cesium fountain atomic clock, which is off by only one second every 20 million years, making it the most accurate clock in the world.


Climate Change
Climate Change

Acccording to the Environmental Protection Agency, our Earth is warming, with the average temperature rising by 1.4 degrees F over the past century, and projected to rise another 2 to 11.5 degrees over the next 100 years. Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate into large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes - oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment. You can take steps at home, on the road and in your office to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the risks associated with climate change. Many of these steps can save you money; some, such as walking or biking, can even improve your health!


Click here for ideas on what you can do to protect our climate

Visit the Museum
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway. The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday, 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