On a recent outing, I came across a fully intact and newly shed snake skin. So, of course, I did what anyone would do - I took it home to study it under my Foldscope!
Snakes are reptiles with bodies covered in scales. Snake scales, which are made of keratin, do not change in number during the life of the snake. The types of scales on a snake are varied and serve many different functions. I was excited to see that these macroscopic differences could be observed at the microscopic level too.
The scales on the belly of a snake are long and rectangular. These scales help with locomotion. They provide just the right amount of friction for the snake to slide smoothly over objects without slipping.
The ventral scales had a rough textured look to them when viewed under my Foldscope. And as I shifted the LED light from side to side, the color of the scales shifted and changed, giving them an iridescent quality.
The back of a snake is the part that can be seen by other animals. The dorsal scales located on the back help with both camouflage and temperature control.
The snakeskin I found had brown colored diamond shaped scales along its back. Under my Foldscope, the dorsal scales appeared to have a bumpy texture. While the back side of the snake skin was translucent like the belly side, the dorsal scales I observed did not have the same iridescent quality as the ventral scales.
I enjoyed studying the snake skin under my Foldscope for several reasons. First, it gave me the opportunity to find beauty in something that many people initially see as scary. Second, I found it interesting to see the macroscopic adaptations of the snake scales on the microscopic level. And last but not least, this simple exploration inspired me to look closer at more of the things I come across in my everyday life.
Have you looked at a snake skin under a Foldscope? Were your observations similar to or different from mine? Use yourFoldscope to dive into the microscopic world and find the beauty that is there waiting for you. Share your microscopic images and thoughts on theMicrocosmos. Be sure to tag us on social media when you post the results of your explorations, creations, and discoveries! We love to see how Foldscopers around the world are using their Foldscopes in new and innovative ways!