May 26, 2020
Meet the Animals
Get to know Herbie, our red-footed tortoise
Have you ever caught yourself following the social cues of someone else, like a human shadow? Red-footed tortoises do this, too. The behavior is known as gaze follow, the ability to follow the gaze or attention focus of another group member.
Herbie is a red-footed tortoise whose home range spans from Panama to Argentina. The coloration of the legs and tail lead to this animal’s common name. The scales that cover these regions are yellow to dark, reddish brown.
Tortoises like Herbie have incredibly long lifespans. It is not uncommon for this animal to reach ages of 50 years or more. At Discovery Place Science, Herbie calls the Rainforest home, which is the perfect habitat for this species that thrives in humid, tropical environments.
Red-footed tortoises are ravenous herbivores, meaning they eat a diet primarily of plant matter like fruits and vegetables. Their diet also consists of some animal matter such as small invertebrates, including insects and snails.
Herbie gets plenty to eat at Discovery Place Science. He enjoys a big salad and variety of fruit every day. He likes his fruit very ripe, because he can’t climb trees so the fruits he would eat in the wild would be the ripest fruit that had fallen to the ground.
To learn more about red-footed tortoises like Herbie check out: https://www.animaldiversity.or…
Emotions are complicated. They’re so complicated that scientists still don’t even fully understand them! One thing that scientists do know, though, is that some of our biggest feelings are caused by a tiny part of the brain called the amygdala.
The amygdala is a bundle of important nerve cells deep inside the brain. Everyone has two amygdales—there’s one in each half of the brain. The amygdala works with the parts of the brain that control memory, behavior and emotion, and this tiny group of cells packs a big punch when it comes to emotions, especially stress and fear.
Most people don’t like to feel scared, but humans are fascinated by it! Think of all the spookiness in the month of October. The rush of energy and emotion people get by being scared can be enjoyable in controlled situations, like a scary movie or an amusement park ride.
No matter the source of the scare, the amygdala’s role is the same. The amygdala is like a bridge connecting two very different parts of the brain: the part that controls the body functions you aren’t aware of (like breathing) and the part that “thinks” for you.
This means that when your amygdala gets information that tells you something scary is happening, it can send signals that make your heart race and your breathing get faster, making you feel scared!