Photo: Secrets of the squirrel tail revealed

© Mark Heatherington/Flickr

Our photo of the day is the picture of contentment ... and a lesson in anatomy.

Who doesn't love the feeling of sunlight warming up the back on a cool morning? This California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi) doesn't seem to mind, or so this photo by Mark Heatherington appears to suggest. Mark writes: "I found this one at sunrise on a frosty morning. She almost looks like she is meditating. I would have not even noticed her without the luminescence of her tail."

And we love how the sun seems to reveal the secrets of the tail, like an X-ray almost. A squirrel uses its exuberant tail to help balance as it maneuvers through trees and tightrope walks across wires. It also has a language of its own; flicking when alarmed, fluffed large when threatened, shivering when flirtatious ... and apparently curled cutely when soaking up sun on a fence.

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