A few months ago, I received an email from a name familiar to me by reputation and memory: Dr. Bayard Brattstrom. Bayard was known to me by his early work on thermal requirements of amphibians, although he has worked on a huge array of research from the fossils of the La Brea tar pits to the social behaviours in reptiles. He is now retired after a career spent mostly in California (Fullerton). He had contacted me after we published our discovery of endothermy in tegu lizards. I mentioned we would be in Vegas for a conference this July/August and that I would like to visit his Horned Lizard Ranch…I naively thought it would be a short drive from Vegas and that I would spend a few hours in the desert. Instead, Bayard very kindly invited me to stay for a few days to experience the place, so I went to the desert to seek wisdom from the Professor of Wikiup.
Anyhow, what a great experience. Two days of speaking with a herpetologist who was involved with so much research I have always admired. Bayard maintains an extensive personal library of herpetology research, lore, collectibles and memories. His house puts our department to shame in terms of its sheer breadth of literature, and from what I can tell, Bayard is working on 1 or 2 books in his spare time. I certainly got a number of new ideas for research questions, and for anyone looking for a great desert field site, his lizard ranch is perfectly suited for any avid herpetologist.
I have posted a few images taken from his place here and wanted to thank him for his hospitality! Incidentally, the outside temperatures were 115 to 120F (real units: ~46 to 48oC!).