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Desert Diary


Almost everyone knows what we mean when we talk about "deciduous trees"; namely, of course, those trees that shed their leaves at the end of the growing season. Implied is, that come spring, the trees will once again be clothed in new, green leaves—leaves that are produced only to be lost the following autumn. Among mammals, the deciduous antlers of deer follow along in this tradition, the bucks shedding their bony sets after the mating season only to grow them again the following year.

The term deciduous isn't limited to things shed and then regrown annually, however. Some things are shed, but not replaced in an annual cycle. Our deciduous teeth, called milk or baby teeth by some, are shed, but unhappily, the set that replaces them has to last a lifetime. Not all examples of shedding are glorified by the word "deciduous". These are mostly losses that fit the basic concept, but are not associated with renewal, annual or otherwise. Be kind to your middle-aged male friends, and carefully refrain from commenting on their deciduous hair.
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.