Eyewire presents: Reptile Pile

Ah it’s summer again! Time to find a hot rock to sun yourself on and kick that body heat up to 11. Come hop on the reptile pile and meet some of your scaliest, cold-bloodiest, egg laying-est friends!

Reptile have been around for a long time! They first started popping up over 300 million years ago, during the Carboniferous period of the late Paleozoic Era. They pre-date mammals by more than 200 million years!

The oldest animal to be unquestionably classified as a reptile is a small, lizard-like cutie called Hylonomus who measured just 20 to 30 cm (8–12 in) long. Tracks from Hylonomus were discovered in fossil strata in Nova Scotia, dating back 315 million years.

But that was just the beginning. Reptiles really carved out a space for themselves during the Mesozoic Era, aka the “Age of Reptiles.” During this time dinosaurs and the ancestors of crocodilians were the dominant land vertebrates.

The Mesozoic Era brought about some of the largest land animals to ever roam the earth. These included Dreadnoughtus, weighing in at 65 tons, with a length of 26 meters (about 85 feet), and Argentinosaurus at 100 tons and 37 to 40 meters (about 121 to 131 feet), and Patagotitan mayorum at 77 tons and 37.2 meters (122 feet).

Though these massive beasts continue to impress us to this day, unfortunately they were no match for the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event, which wiped away most of the megafauna of the day.

However, many of the little guys managed to hold out, and today there are still over 9,700 species of reptiles – nearly twice the number of mammals which top out at a measly 5,400. Let’s get to know some of our scaly buddies, and engage in some friendly competition along the way!

Accurassssssy Happy Hours

First session runs from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM on Thursday 8/18
Second session runs from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM on Friday 8/19
Third session runs from 10:00 PM to midnight on Friday 8/19

All snakes are carnivores, which means they need to strike down swiftly moving prey. Consider the spitting cobra, a snake which can spit venom into it’s victim’s eyes from over 5 feet away, with nearly 90% accuracy! Impressive!

Some snakes (pit vipers and boids) have something called a pit organ that also detects warm-blooded prey through the use of infrared light. This “heat vision” gives the snakes an extra advantage in locating their prey, even in conditions where visibility is poor.

It’s time to make like a snake and get ready to take charge of some cells during Accuracy Happy Hour!

Swag: Most accurate player completing at least 30 cubes wins a notebook, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

1st Place Accuracy – 10,000 points
2nd Place Accuracy – 8,000 points
3rd Place Accuracy – 6,000 points
Achieve 95% Accuracy – 5,000 points
Achieve 90% Accuracy – 3,000 points
Achieve 80% Accuracy – 2,000 points
1,000 points for anyone under 80% who still plays at least 30 cubes in either slot.
(These bonus thresholds are non-cumulative, i.e. they will not combine. If you earn 3rd place, for instance, and presumably got over 95% accuracy, you still earn a 6,000 point bonus, not 11,000.)

Crocodilian Hunt

Begins at 12:00 AM (midnight) on Saturday 8/20
Ends at 12:00 PM (noon) on Thursday 8/25

Like snakes, Crocodilians are excellent hunters. They lurk silently in the water, waiting for prey to swim near, and then when the time is right, they make their move!

The crocodilian order includes alligators, caimans, the gharial and false gharial, and of course, crocodiles! There are 28 species of crocodilians, and they can be found worldwide — across the Americas, as well as in Africa, Asia, and Australia. They’ve been around for 230 million years, and have changed little since they first made their earthly debut. They must being doing something right!

Now make like a croc, and be on the lookout for your own prey – those nasty mergers. Let the hunt begin!

Swag: The top scoring player will win a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

Each merger found – 1,000 points
7,500 additional points if all 12 are found
200 point bonus available on each merger to the player whose guess is closest
250 point bonus available to any player who guesses within 10 voxels of a merger

Learnin’ Lizards Trivia

Begins at 11:00 AM on Sunday 8/21
Continues until 11:00 AM on Tuesday 8/23
Finishes with Power Hour from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Tuesday 8/23

Lizards are an impressively large group within the squamate order of reptiles, including over 7000 species! There’s so much to learn about lizards, you could do a whole trivia session just about them.

Typically lizards are small in size, though there are some impressive outliers. The smallest lizards are just a few centimeters long, while the Komodo dragon clocks in at 3 meters (10 feet)!

Lizards typically have rounded torsos, elevated heads on short necks, four limbs, long tails, and a movable quadrate bone. Otherwise they are extremely diverse. Some can glide, some can stick to surfaces, some are venomous, some smell with their tongues, some move their eyes in crazy directions. The fun facts never end!

Swag: The top scoring player will win a tote bag, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

For every question —
1st to answer – 300 points
2nd to answer – 200 points
3rd to answer – 100 points

Tuatara vs Worm Lizard

Begins at 11:00 AM on Monday 8/22
Ends at 11:00 AM on Wednesday 8/24

One looks like a lizard, one sounds like a lizard, but neither are actual lizards! Pick your favorite obscure lizard-less reptile and let the competition begin!

Tuataras may look like an iguana’s long lost cousin, but they are actually from a completely separate lineage of reptiles. They are the only surviving members of the order Rhynchocephalia (‘beak-heads’). Tuataras are endemic to New Zealand, and even there they were extinct everywhere except the offshore islands until 2008, when a hatchling was discovered in the North Island’s wildlife sanctuary “Zealandia.”

Worm lizards look a bit like snakes who mated with accordions, and they likewise are not worms nor lizards. Worm lizards, formally known as amphisbaenians, are a bit closer related to lizards than the Tuatara, hailing from the same order (Squamata). Their name comes from Amphisbaena, a mythical serpent with a head at each end— a reference to both their appearance, and their ability to move in reverse as well as forward.

Swag: The top scoring player on the winning team wins a t-shirt, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place on the winning team will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

Starting Lineup – top 3 players on each team, who earn 75% of their score in bonus points
All Other Players – earn 50% of their score in bonus points
Winning Team – 20,000 additional points
Each Team’s MVP – 5,000 additional points
(The winning team is determined by average points per player, with 2x weight given to Starting Lineup players. To qualify for any of the above bonuses or affect the team score, players must earn a minimum baseline of 2,000 points.)

Turtle Time Marathon

Begins at 10:00 AM on Wednesday 8/24
Ends at 10:00 AM on Thursday 8/25

Slow and steady wins the race, as they say! But during the marathon perhaps try to be more like the Leatherback Sea Turtle, that can swim up to 22 mph (35.28 km/h) and less like the Galápagos Giant Tortoise who ambles about at an average of 0.16 mph (.26 km/h). However, what the Giant Tortoise doesn’t have in speed, it makes up for in longevity. Giant Tortoises are the oldest known living reptile species, some living over 150 years!

Turtles first arose 260 million years ago. Today there are 360 species of turtles, and they’ve taken over most of the world! They can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and in most of the world’s oceans. Turtles have been having quite a marathon indeed!

Swag: Anyone in the top 25% of participants will be entered into a raffle, for which the five prizes include a wall clock, a pillow (new for this year!), and three sticker/magnet sets.

One live cell will be designated the “marathon cell,” with a 3x points multiplier!
Cube count bonuses: 3500 points per cube traced.
SC bonuses are doubled on all cells.
Every 3 SCs counts for 1 cube toward naming eligibility & per-cell completion bonus.
50 cubes = 5,000 points per completed cell, plus rights to vote on a new name for the marathon cell
200 cubes = 10,000 points per completed cell, plus rights to nominate a new name for the marathon cell