Have I neglected the backyard garden this much in the last few weeks? This morning when I opened the backdoor, I was surprised to see the grounds covered by mysterious coin-shaped objects. They were clearly seeds — seeds wearing papery, gossamer skirts. Sure, I have seen them before, but not so many all at once. They parachuted from my neighbor’s golden elm tree - an elm native to northern America.
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The seeds of quandong

There is a desert quandong tree (Santalum acuminatum), a native Australian plant, on campus. I walked past it for months without paying any attention to it until it started to bear fruits. Its bell-like fruits look like decorations of the Christmas tree.
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I took these photos for a research project while I was a student at UC San Diego. They are the skull and the brain of the California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi)