The term crepuscular describes events relating to, resembling, or occurring during twilight, meaning morning and evening hours. An animal described as crepuscular is active during twilight.
EarthWords is an on-going series in which we shed some light on the complicated, often difficult-to-pronounce language of science. Think of us as your terminology tour-guides, and meet us back here every week for a new word!
- The term crepuscular describes events relating to, resembling, or occurring during twilight, meaning morning and evening hours. An animal described as crepuscular is active during twilight.
- Comes from the Latin word creper, meaning “dark.”
Use/Significance in the Science Community:
- Many different species of birds, mammals, and a variety of other animal species are crepuscular, and knowing when a species is active is fundamental to studying its behavior and abundance, and in making many other observations.
- USGS researchers refer to grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as having crepuscular peaks in activity because they tend to be more active during twilight hours in the morning and again in the evening. Their crepuscular peaks are most pronounced during the hot summer months of June-August. In a recent study conducted in Yellowstone National Park, scientists discovered that grizzly “bear-jams,” roadside bear viewing opportunities that cause traffic congestion in Yellowstone National Park during the summer, are related to the tendency of bears to be crepuscular.
Next EarthWord: In which we milk the magnesia right out of the rock.
Hungry for some science, but you don’t have time for a full-course research plate? Then check out USGS Science Snippets, our snack-sized science series that focuses on the fun, weird, and fascinating stories of USGS science.