About Chris Clarke
Born in Upstate New York in the very early 1960s, Chris moved to the West Coast in 1982. He spent much of the 1980s pursuing an interest in botany and horticulture, working in nurseries and on landscaping crews in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the environs of Washington, DC.
Chris began writing professionally in 1989 for Terrain, a small non-profit monthly environmental publication in Berkeley, CA. His writing has appeared in publications ranging from Camas and Orion to Bay Nature, California Wild, the New Internationalist, Berkeley Insider and the East Bay Monthly, and about thirty daily papers nationwide. He’s a frequent contributor to KCET, Los Angeles’ public television station.
Chris has traveled extensively in the Mojave, Great Basin and Sonoran deserts, as well as in the steppes and slickrock country of the Colorado Plateau. His aridland obsession notwithstanding, Chris also bears a great fondness for more well-watered landscapes, the mountains of coastal and northern California and the Sierra Nevada in particular.
In 2003 Chris launched his first blog, Creek Running North, which over the next five years won acclaim from a wide range of readers in the science, political, essayist, navel-gazing, drama-addict, and pet-owner blogging communities. In 2008 Chris left the Bay Area, closed Creek Running North after a five-year run, and moved to the Mojave Desert. His current blog, Coyote Crossing, was begun after a few months in the desert. He now lives in Joshua Tree, California with his fianceé and their cat.
Chris is currently working on a book on Joshua trees, which will be based on over a decade of research.
What the heck is a pharyngula?
“Pharyngula” is a term coined by William Ballard to describe a particular stage in the development of the vertebrate embryo. At the pharyngula stage, the vertebrate embryo
- is at the phylotypic stage, an evolutionarily conserved period when vertebrate embryos of all species are most similar to one another.
- has assembled at least the rudiments of most of the major organ systems.
- is expressing the well-known series of Hox genes, regulatory genes responsible for patterning the embryo.
- has a repeated series of pharyngeal arches. These are characteristic chordate tissues that form a ‘basket’ of cartilage and associated tissues in the throat; they contribute to jaws and facial structures, ear bones, gill arches, etc.
It’s an interesting and important period of embryonic development, and happens to be the period my students and I spend a lot of time studying.
If you’re wondering how to pronounce it, try “fa-RING-you-la” or “fa-RINJ-you-la.”