Hedgehog fossil discovery in Canada


This video is called Tiny Hedgehog Fossil Could Answer Climate-Change Questions.

From Wildlife Extra:

Fossils of tiny, unknown, hedgehog found in Canada

Fossil remains of a tiny hedgehog, about two inches long, that lived 52 million years ago have been discovered in British Columbia by scientists from University of Colorado Boulder.

Named Silvacola acares, which means tiny forest dweller, it is perhaps the smallest hedgehog ever to have lived and is both a genus and species new to science.

“It is quite tiny and comparable in size to some of today’s shrews,” said lead author Jaelyn Eberle.

“We can’t say for sure it had prickly quills, but there are ancestral hedgehogs living in Europe about the same time that had bristly hair covering them, so it is plausible Silvacola did, too.”

The fossils were found in north-central British Columbia at a site known as Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park that was likely to have been a rainforest environment during the Early Eocene Epoch.

See also here. And here.

Canadian Cambrian fossils discovery


This video from Canada says about itself:

4 July 2012

Associate Curator, Jean-Bernard Caron presents an overview of the fossil collection from the Burgess Shale, B.C., highlighting a number of specimens.

From the London Free Press in Canada:

‘Epic’ new fossil site found in B.C. national park

QMI Agency

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 10:30:33 EST AM

Researchers hit the “motherload” when they discovered a new fossil site in a B.C. national park.

In 2012, Canadian, U.S., and Swedish researchers made the discovery of a new Burgess Shale fossil site in Kootenay National Park, just 42 km away from what is hailed the world’s most important fossil site, located in Yoho National Park.

“We were already aware of the presence of some Burgess Shale fossils in Kootenay National Park. We had a hunch that if we followed the formation along the mountain topography into new areas with the right rock types, maybe, just maybe, we would get lucky — though we never in our wildest dreams thought we’d track down a motherload like this,” geologist Robert Gaines of Pomona College in California said in a release Tuesday.

In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers said the area and its fossils will help scientists better understand the sudden explosion of animal life during the Cambrian Period.

The study’s lead author, Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto, called the discovery “an epic sequel to a research story that began at the turn of the previous century.”

In more than 100 years of research, about 200 animal species have been identified at the original Burgess Shale discovery in Yoho National Park.

In just 15 days of field collecting, 50 animal species were unearthed at the new Kootenay National Park site.

The team will go back to the park this summer in the hopes of discovering new species.

See also here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Humpback Whale off Norfolk


Originally posted on Letter From Norfolk:

I made a prediction in July. I foresaw that within 5 years we would be watching a Humpback Whale off the Norfolk coastline. Having committed this to print in the latest Norfolk Bird and Mammal Report I was relived yesterday morning when Ryan Irvine called me to say he’d seen one off Hemsby. A first for Norfolk and four and a half years to spare! Good on ye Ryan.

It was later seen further north. I couldn’t make it there yesterday but did make it today and amazingly it was still offshore. Although distant it appeared to be breathing quite well and also feeding accompanied by a flock of diving Gannet.

It was as I was about to move on I noticed the whale had covered an inordinately large distance in a very short time. This of course is possible. They can move quickly. My mind momentarily slipped to asking…

View original 272 more words

American rock song on Chinese traditional instrument, video


This 21 September 2013 music video is called Guns ‘N RosesSweet Child o’ MineGuzheng Cover.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

This Unconventional Cover Of A Guns N’ Roses Song Is Beyond Awesome

Posted: 10/07/2013 11:19 am EDT

Vancouver musician Michelle Kwan rocks out with this most holy of covers, showing that nothing is more rock ‘n’ roll than an ancient Chinese string instrument.

You may not have guessed that a guzheng would so delicately capture the essence of Guns N’ Roses’ harmonious hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” In fact, you might not even know what a guzheng is.

For those of you who don’t know, a guzheng is a Chinese plucked zither, related to the Japanese koto, the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. If you don’t know what those are either, you’ll have to watch the video above to find out.

Enjoy the teenage musician’s unlikely hard rock ode and be warned: things get really intense around 2:37.

Saving Canada’s seabirds


This video from the USA says about itself:

The marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a small Pacific seabird listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in California, Oregon and Washington. Rarely seen by humans, they spend the majority of their lives at sea forage, rest, and mate. For years, ornithologists did not know where this mysterious bird nested. It wasn’t until 1974 that the first marbled murrelet nest was discovered in North America. Generally, they nest in coastal old-growth forests, characterized by large trees with multiple canopy layers and moderate to high canopy closure.

From BirdLife:

Parks Canada aims to make seabird island IBAs rat-free

Fri, Sep 20, 2013

Following a pilot eradication on two smaller islets, Parks Canada staff are clearing invasive rats from two important seabird breeding islands in the north of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site on the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, a dense chain of islands in the Pacific off the coast of British Columbia.

Rat bait containing a rodenticide is being dropped on the islands by helicopter, a technique first developed in New Zealand, and also used by BirdLife to restore seabird breeding islands in the South Pacific.

The Haida Gwaii archipelago includes many Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) recognised for their populations of breeding seabirds. Parts or all of nine IBAs are protected by the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

“Half the world population of Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus breed on Haida Gwaii, and approximately half of these breed within the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve”, said Laurie Wein, the project’s manager at Parks Canada.

One of the two target islands, Murchison, lies within the Ramsay and Northern Juan Perez Sound Islands IBA, which also meets IBA criteria for its population of Cassin’s Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus.

The Ancient Murrelet population is decreasing in North America. The global population is also suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species, especially rats.

Parks Canada is carrying out the eradication work in conjunction with the Haida Nation.

“The introduction of rats to many of the forested islands of Haida Gwaii has meant the demise of several historic seabird nesting colonies,” said Haida Nation president Peter Lantin. “Of particular interest is the Ancient Murrelet, a species at risk. Also known as SGin Xaana or Night Bird, this was once an important food source for our people.”

Parks Canada representatives attended the 2013 BirdLife World Congress in Ottawa, Canada, to speak about their work in the islands.

“Nature Canada applauds the leadership of Parks Canada in the restoration of these globally important bird areas,“ said Stephen Hazell, Senior Conservationist at BirdLife co-Partner Nature Canada. “The coastal areas around Haida Gwaii are a global hotspot for marine breeding birds, and efforts to rid the islands of rats are a first step towards restoring the ecological integrity of these islands.”

The rats, which were brought by ships in the 18th and 19th centuries, eat eggs and chicks, and attack adult murrelets and other ground- and hole-nesting species. Ramsay Island, the largest and most important seabird breeding island in the Ramsay and Northern Juan Perez Sound Islands IBA, is currently rat-free. But as long as rats remain within the group, there is the ever-present danger that they could be accidentally introduced from nearby islands.

“Introduced predators are a major threat to colonial ground-nesting seabird species, including murrelets and storm petrels,” said Jon McCracken, Director of National Programs for Bird Studies Canada (BirdLife co-partner) and co-chair of the birds subcommittee for COSEWIC, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. “Bird Studies Canada is strongly supportive of efforts by Parks Canada and the Haida Nation to protect seabirds by eliminating rats from islands in the Haida Gwaii.”

Populations of Endangered Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus, Leach’s [Petrel] Oceanodroma leucorhoa and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel O. furcata, and Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani are also expected to recover once the rats are gone.

Nearly half a million seabirds die in gillnets every year, but solutions exist: here.

Orcas in Canada, video


This video from Canada says about itself:

Orcas in Active Pass, Galiano Island BC – Canada (wow!)

Aug 25, 2013

Orcas in Active Pass off the shores of Galiano Island.

Good American grizzly bear news


This video from the USA is called Grizzly Bears V the Wolves Survival Documentary HQ.

From Associated Press:

1st grizzly seen at Elk Refuge in nearly 20 years

August 27, 2013 4:00 pm

JACKSON, Wyo. — A grizzly has been spotted at the National Elk Refuge for the first time in nearly 20 years.

A sow, with three cubs, was seen on Aug. 20 feeding on a gut pile from the annual bison hunt. It’s believed to have been a bear well-known to visitors of Grand Teton National Park, No. 399. That bear had triplets this year and had been seen in the southeast edge of the national park days before the refuge sighting.

A grizzly, also with three cubs, was last seen at the refuge in 1994.

Refuge biologist Eric Cole said that hunters have been warned to carry bear spray because of the possibility of grizzlies being drawn to the hunt.

And not so good news: November 2013: Trophy hunting is putting British Columbia’s population of grizzly bears at risk scientists from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University have found. For despite supposedly strict regulations the report shows trophy hunters regularly kill more bears than allowed under the province’s own management policy, and passes doubt on the BC government’s claim that ‘sound science’ is used to manage the trophy hunting: here.

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 80 – The Malayan Sun Bear: here.

North Pacific right whale seen near Canada


This video says about itself:

Sep 2, 2010

A compilation of the Earth’s most endangered species, from the North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica) to Lonesome George, the last surviving Pinta Island Tortoise.

From Wildlife Extra:

North Pacific right whale spotted off British Columbia for the first time for 60 years

Rare whale sighted off British Columbia coast

June 2013. For the first time in more 60 years, a North Pacific right whale has been spotted in British Columbia waters. Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologist James Pilkington made the discovery while surveying for whales off the west coast of Haida Gwaii on June 9, 2013. Pilkington and fellow Fisheries and Oceans Canada whale biologists John Ford and Graeme Ellis observed the whale for a total of 17 hours over the next few days as it foraged on zooplankton at the surface.

Only 6 sightings, and all were killed by whalers

Sightings of these whales are extremely rare – there are only six records of the species in Canadian waters over the past century, and all were killed by whalers; the last in 1951. Fewer than 50 individuals are thought to currently exist in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. North Pacific right whales are listed as Endangered in Canada.

Disbelief

“When we realized what we were looking at, we were in a state of disbelief” said Pilkington. “I never thought I’d see a North Pacific right whale in my lifetime, let alone have the opportunity to study it over several days. I was ecstatic!”

Nearly extinct

North Pacific right whales are large baleen whales that were once commonly found in British Columbia waters, most likely for feeding on their preferred prey, tiny copepods (zooplankton). They were abundant from the British Columbia coast north to the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea before being decimated by whaling. Nineteenth-century whalers preferred this species because they were large, slow swimming, and floated when killed. They were hunted to near extinction before 1900. Most remaining individuals were killed by illegal whaling in the 1960s. Today, the North Pacific right whale is one of the most critically endangered whale species in the world. It is estimated that there may only be a few hundred alive today, mostly in the western North Pacific.

“This is a very exciting discovery. Our research group has conducted over 50,000 km of whale surveys off the BC coast over the past 10 years and have sighted thousands of whales, but this is the first North Pacific right whale. It was wonderful to see it and to confirm that the species still exists in Canadian waters” said Dr. John Ford, head of the Cetacean Research Program at DFO’s Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, BC.

The North Pacific right whale is protected by the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). It is also protected under the Marine Mammals Regulations, which fall under the Fisheries Act. A Recovery Strategy for the North Pacific right whale was prepared by DFO in 2011, and an Action Plan to implement the recommendations in the Recovery Strategy is currently in preparation.

Considered the rarest whale population in the world, the North Pacific right whale is not often spotted. But for the second time since 1951, the majestic creature was seen in B.C. waters: here.

Fin whale killed by ship strike off Washington: here.

Ancient fossil named after Johnny Depp


Kooteninchela deppi

From Biology News Net:

Actor Johnny Depp immortalized in ancient fossil find

May 16, 2013 04:57 PM

A scientist has discovered an ancient extinct creature with ‘scissor hand-like’ claws in fossil records and has named it in honour of his favourite movie star.

The 505 million year old fossil called Kooteninchela deppi (pronounced Koo-ten-ee-che-la depp-eye), which is a distant ancestor of lobsters and scorpions, was named after the actor Johnny Depp for his starring role as Edward Scissorhands – a movie about an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation, who has scissors for hands.

Kooteninchela deppi is helping researchers to piece together more information about life on Earth during the Cambrian period when nearly all modern animal types emerged.

David Legg, who carried out the research as part of his PhD in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says:

“When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands. Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film as ‘chela’ is Latin for claws or scissors. In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honour the man than to immortalise him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?”

Kooteninchela deppi lived in very shallow seas, similar to modern coastal environments, off the cost of British Columbia in Canada, which was situated much closer to the equator 500 million years ago. The sea temperature would have been much hotter than it is today and although coral reefs had not yet been established, Kooteninchela deppi would have lived in a similar environment consisting of sponges.

The researcher believes that Kooteninchela deppi would have been a hunter or scavenger. Its large Edward Scissorhands-like claws with their elongated spines may have been used to capture prey, or they could have helped it to probe the sea floor looking for sea creatures hiding in sediment.

Kooteninchela deppi was approximately four centimetres long with an elongated trunk for a body and millipede-like legs, which it used to scuttle along the sea floor with the occasional short swim.

It also had large eyes composed of many lenses like the compound eyes of a fly. They were positioned on top of movable stalks called peduncles to help it more easily search for food and look out for predators.

The researcher discovered that Kooteninchela deppi belongs to a group known as the ‘great-appendage’ arthropods, or megacheirans, which refers to the enlarged pincer-like frontal claws that they share. The ‘great-appendage’ arthropods are an early relation of arthropods, which includes spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, insects and crabs.

David Legg adds: “Just imagine it: the prawns covered in mayonnaise in your sandwich, the spider climbing up your wall and even the fly that has been banging into your window and annoyingly flying into your face are all descendants of Kooteninchela deppi. Current estimates indicate that there are more than one million known insects and potentially 10 million more yet to be categorised, which potentially means that Kooteninchela Deppi has a huge family tree.”

In the future, David Legg intends to further his research and study fossilised creatures from the Ordovician, the geological period that saw the largest increase in diversity of species on the planet. He hopes to understand why this happened in order to learn more about the current diversity of species on Earth.