Hundreds of dinosaur footprints discovered in Canada

This video says about itself:

Dinosaur Discovery GalleryTumbler Ridge, British Columbia

21 April 2015

The gallery contains displays primarily focused on interpreting regional vertebrate palaeontology including material from B.C.’s two dinosaur excavations. There are also displays on dinosaur and other vertebrate tracks and traces which make up the vast majority of the terrestrial vertebrate record of western Canada. One of British Columbia’s best-kept secrets is the massive fossil record of Triassic marine fish and reptiles from this region. Our volunteers and scientists have collaborated to bring together an impressive and rapidly growing collection of specimens for ongoing scientific research and public interpretation here in the gallery.

Our recently expanded Dinosaur Discovery Gallery contains several new and enhanced palaeontology exhibits including a full-scale re-creation of a 100 million-year-old dinosaur track environment. An interactive theatre provides several presentation options for visitors to view and learn about the pre-history of the Peace Region of British Columbia.

From the Canadian Press:

B.C. dinosaur path tracks heyday of prehistoric beasts

Discovered dinosaur path 115 million years old

Sunday, April 26, 2015 1:00 am

Dirk Meissner

VICTORIA – A type of dinosaur Autobahn, with a riot of ancient footprints that are likely more than 100 million years old, has been discovered in northeastern British Columbia.

Hundreds of prints from extinct carnivores and herbivores are pressed into the flat, rocky surface spanning an area the size of three Canadian football fields, indicating the site was a major dinosaur thoroughfare.

Many of the three-toed prints at the site — located near Williston Lake about 1,500 kilometres northeast of Vancouver — closely resemble the Toronto Raptors logo.

“From what I saw there is at least a score or more of trackways, so 20-plus trackways of different animals,” said paleontologist Rich McCrea.

“We’re looking at a few hundred foot prints that were exposed when I visited the site. If it keeps up that density and we are able to peel back a bit of the surface and expand it by another 1,000 square metres we’re likely to find there are thousands of foot prints.”

McCrea is the curator of the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre in Tumbler Ridge, B.C. He believes the dinosaur path has major potential as a world-class scientific and tourism site, but said he’s concerned the B.C. government’s approach to protecting and promoting dinosaur zones is somewhat prehistoric.

“It would be one of the top sites, unquestionably,” said McCrea, who’s part of a local crowdfunding campaign to raise $190,000 to research and promote the dinosaur track site. “It already looks like it’s going to be one of the biggest sites in Canada. That also means one of the biggest sites in the world.”

He said his visits to the secret site indicate the area was a major travel zone for the Allosaurus, a Jurassic Park look-alike, 8.5-metre-long, two-legged predator with a huge head and rows of teeth.

McCrea said the area is also ripe with tracks made by the Anklosaurus [sic; Ankylosaurus], a four-legged, nine-metre-long herbivore, that weighed almost 6,000 kilograms and was known for its distinctive armour-plated head and long, club-like tail.

He estimated those tracks are between 115 million and 117 million years old.

“This was still in the dinosaurs’ heyday,” said McCrea. “It’s kind of like the middle age of dinosaurs.”

He said he wants the area protected by the B.C. government, and he’s part of a pitch to create a Peace Country dinosaur tourist zone that rivals Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller. McCrea envisions dinosaur tours to Tumbler Ridge, Williston Lake and the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in nearby Wembley, Alta.

Last fall, Tumbler Ridge was designated as a UNESCO global geopark that recognizes geological heritage. The community converted a school into a dinosaur museum and repository for the dinosaurs fossils discovered in the area.

McCrea said he wants to see a tourist building overlooking the dinosaur trackway area at Williston Lake. A similar concept at China’s Zigong Dinosaur Museum attracts seven million people a year, he said.

Tumbler Ridge Liberal MLA Mike Bernier said he’s been trying to convince cabinet ministers that the area is an important asset and needs heritage and fossil protection policies.

“People go crazy when they see dinosaur bones and fossils. There’s something about it: the old Jurassic Park movie coming to life in your riding,” he said.

Bernier said he’s reviewing heritage protection laws from across North America and plans to submit a proposal to government this year.

B.C. Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson, whose ministry covers fossil protection, said he’s seen the Tumbler Ridge dinosaur site and has met with Bernier on strengthening the province’s fossil management.

Five years ago the government protected the world-renowned McAbee fossil beds near Cache Creek in B.C.’s Interior from professional fossil hunters and others who were mining the area for cat litter.

“We are looking at what legislative adjustments might be needed to be put in place,” said Thomson.

McCrea said Alberta and others have protected and profit from their fossil heritage, while B.C. remains behind the times.

“We’re missing out on all the opportunities, not just tourism and education, but also, how about just pride that the province itself is the custodian of all its natural resources,” he said.

Older female killer whales become pod leaders

This video is called Documentary The Orca – The Intelligent Killer WhaleNational Geographic.

From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

Menopausal whales lead the group, study says

By Melissa Healy


Mystery solved (maybe): Some females live beyond their reproductive years because their wisdom benefits kin

Menopause: an evolutionary mystery unique to humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales

Female killer whales can live past 90. Males rarely survive after 50

What does an ocean-going titaness do after she has the lost the ability to bear young?

Well, for starters, she goes on living–sometimes past the ripe old age of 90, while male killer whales over 50 are dying off in droves. Throughout the animal kingdom, that is unusual enough.

But the menopausal female killer whale does more than survive, says a new study: She “leans in,” becoming an influential leader of younger killer whales, honing the survival skills of her progeny–and their progeny–unencumbered by direct childcare duties of her own.

Quite the opposite of being a burden to her kind, her post-menopausal leadership role seems to make the older female killer whale her species’ evolutionary ace in the hole.

Published in the journal Current Biology, the new research finds that among killer whales, females beyond their reproductive years become habitual leaders of collective movement–generally foraging movement–within their pods. Their position “on point” becomes particularly prominent in lean years, when salmon–the mainstay of the killer whales’ diet–is scarce.

The new findings offer the first evidence that in certain species and under specific circumstances, females who live well beyond their reproductive years “act as repositories of ecological knowledge.”

That helps solve an enduring mystery among biologists: Why–in humans and in two species of toothed whales only–would individuals who no longer propagate their genes continue to survive?

The authors of the study are marine mammal researchers from the universities of York and Exeter in Great Britain and the Center for Whale Research in Washington state. To glean their findings, they analyzed 751 hours of video taken of Southern resident killer whales during annual salmon migrations off the coast of British Columbia and Washington.

The videos were taken over a period of nine years. They captured the movements of pods of killer whales whose populations have been identified and tracked since 1976. That allowed the researchers to determine the age and relatedness of the 102 creatures whose movements they analyzed.

Such detail also allowed the authors to speculate on why post-menopausal survival is so very rare. If post-reproductive females can be such an evolutionary boon for their kin, why do they not survive to serve that function across many species?

Some have suggested that for humans, at least, the post-menopausal survival of women is merely an artifact of better medical care.

Not so, new research–including the killer whales study–suggests. The answer, the authors of this study wrote, may lie in different kinship patterns. Among killer whales, generations of males and females stay together throughout their lives, foraging as a group. As a female ages, her level of genetic relatedness to members of her pod increases.

“Menopause will only evolve,” they wrote, “when inclusive fitness benefits outweigh the costs of terminating reproduction.”

In short, an older female’s continued value to the group may be a function not only of her accumulated knowledge about the whereabouts of food, shelter and predators, but also of her genetic stake in the group’s survival.

That was the case, too, in hunter-gatherer human societies, the authors note. As human societies evolved, women reaching sexual maturity tended to leave the group. As her sons and their many mates and children populated her group, an aging woman’s “relatedness” to that group tended to grow.

In contrast, among other long-lived mammals, sons move off as they reach sexual maturity. So a female becomes less related to the “pod” she stays with as she become older. Under those circumstances, the authors write, she may have sufficient ecological wisdom but not a sufficient level of “relatedness” to her group to ensure her survival beyond the years of reproduction.

Mountain chickadees’ intelligence research

This video is called Mountain chickadee, filmed at Lac Le Jeune in British Columbia, Canada.

From Wildlife Extra:

Mountain birds are better problem-solvers than lowlanders

The mountain chickadee is better at working out problems than its relatives that live at lower levels

Living high up on an inhospitable mountain can make you mentally sharper. That’s what Dovid Kozlovsky and his colleagues at the University of Nevada in the US learned with mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli), a North American bird from the tit family.

Those birds that live at higher altitudes are better problem solvers than the same species living in lower regions.

Previous research showed that mountain chickadees living at harsher high elevations have bigger hippocampi, the part of the brain which plays an important role in memory and spatial navigation.

These chickadees also have far superior spatial memory. This helps them to be better at remembering where they hid food away for a later occasion.

Animals living in challenging or unpredictable environments such as deserts or snowy mountain peaks are generally thought to have enhanced mental abilities.

These include being better able to solve problems and not shying away from inspecting new things.

To understand if this is also true for mountain chickadees, Kozlovsky and his colleagues caught 24 young birds in the Sagehen Experimental Forest in California that had not yet experienced a winter.

Their findings are published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Twelve birds were caught at a site around 1,800m above sea level, while another dozen were captured 600m higher.

Studies to test the birds’ problem-solving skills and their reaction to new objects were then conducted at the University of Nevada.

The researchers first watched what happened when members of the two groups were confronted with a clear test tube plugged with a wad of cotton and with a waxworm inside.

Members of the higher elevation group were able to work out how to remove the plug much more quickly than their counterparts from the lower region.

The researchers also tested if the birds would readily investigate and feed from a feeder that looked very different from the one that they were used to.

None of the birds in either altitude groups were inclined to do so. In fact, they all displayed similar degrees of neophobia, almost fearfully steering clear of the unknown object.

They did so even though the new feeder was baited with waxworms, one of their favourite meals.

According to Kozlovsky and his colleagues, this shows that problem solving and the ability to innovate and try new things do not necessarily go hand in hand in mountain chickadees.

“Enhanced problem-solving ability might be associated with living in harsher environments either via natural selection or by the animal’s adaptability to different environments,” Kozlovsky hypothesises.

“However, differences in problem-solving ability are not necessarily associated with differences in neophobia.”

Beached harbour porpoise rescued in England

This video from British Columbia in Canada says about itself:

Helpless Porpoise Rescued

30 April 2011

On April 26, 2011, a rare live stranding of an adult Harbour Porpoise occurred on Salt Spring Island. Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre, a local non profit marine mammal rescue centre responded to the stranding. Staff members guided the struggling animal ashore, administered some basic, supportive care, and transported the porpoise to the Island Wildlife facility where the porpoise was kept afloat in one of its marine mammal tanks.

The porpoise was later transported to the Ganges Coast Guard Station and loaded aboard the Coast Guard hover craft, Siyay, which rushed the animal to the Vancouver Aquarium who have more Cetacean rehabilitation expertise.

From the Lincolnshire Echo in England, with video there:

Porpoise rescued from muddy river bank at Gibraltar Point

February 20, 2015

A porpoise became stranded in a muddy river bottom at Gibraltar Point near Skegness today.

Volunteers from Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness came to its rescue after it became stranded when the tide had gone out.

The rescuers had to be roped up for their own safety due to the muddy conditions on the riverbank.

They managed to get the porpoise onto a stretcher before transferring it to the beach.

They then waded through the sea water until it was deep enough to release the porpoise.

Welsh bird news update

This video from British Columbia in Canada is called Red-necked Grebes Mating.

A Twitter message by Wendy James in Wales today says:

Great day of Pembrokeshire birding. Highlights – Marsh Harrier Castlemartin Corse, 3 Hen Harriers Plumstone, Red-necked Grebe, Angle Bay.

Bat news from Canada

This video from Canada says about itself:

11 July 2013

Little Brown bats have been dying by the millions so it was a great suprise to be blessed with the discovery of a very healthy colony in Kemble, Ontario.

From the Vancouver Sun in Canada:

Researchers net rare Spotted bats near Lillooet

By Matthew Robinson

December 30, 2014

A team of biologists netted a rare find on a recent nighttime research mission near Lillooet when they captured a half-dozen spotted bats.

The bats are numbered among fewer than 20 ever caught in Canada, and are among an estimated population of fewer than 1,000 in the country, according to a news release by staff at the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.

The scientists caught the winged mammals in a mist net — a nearly invisible, in-air mesh fence that biologists use to safely snag and tag birds and bats. The intention of the biologists’ work is to learn more about the ecology of Pallid, Spotted and other related bat species in the area before White Nose Syndrome — a deadly fungal disease sweeping westward through North America — reaches B.C.

“Finding six spotted bats in one night, and seven in total this field season, is beyond our expectations,” said Jared Hobbs, a biologist with research firm Hemmera.

Spotted bats are large, but they don’t weigh much. They have a wingspan of more than 30 centimetres, but weigh just 15 grams — about the weight of a compact disc. They have the biggest ears of any B.C. bat and are recognizable for the white spot on each of their shoulders and on their rump, according to the Government of Canada’s Species at Risk registry. The hunting calls of spotted bats can be heard by the human ear, according to the release.

Cori Lausen, who co-leads the project with Hobbs, said spotted bats are not easily captured. As a result, relatively little is known about the species.

The bats are so hard to capture that it was not until 1979 that biologists discovered the species lived in the province, according to the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

“These bats are high-flying, so we used mist nets that were four times the height of those typically used, measuring about 12.5 metres high by 18 metres wide, and we focused on open grassland habitats,” said Lausen.

After netting their subjects, the researchers glued radio telemetry tags onto the backs of the bats so they can track their foraging and roosting habits.

White Nose Syndrome has killed millions of hibernating bats since spreading from the northeastern to central U.S. and Canada, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Bat populations have declined by an estimated 80 per cent since the syndrome was first documented in winter 2006-07, according to the USGS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In some areas, 90 to 100 per cent of hibernating bat populations have died off as a result of the fungus.

The syndrome has not been detected in this province, but many biologists say it’s only a matter of time until it spreads.

The biologists’ work is being funded by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, a partnership between BC Hydro, First Nations, the federal and provincial governments and others, according to the release. The project is one of eight in the Bridge and Seton River watersheds that are receiving funding from the program in 2014-15.

Grizzly bear orphan returns to the wild in Canada

This video says about itself:

Grizzly Bear Encounters

Of all the species I have filmed in the wild I have to admit nothing can quite compare to the Grizzly! They are a powerful and majestic mammal that in one glance takes us back to the time of the last ice age when mega fauna roamed the earth. Like all bears, they are a curious and intelligent species. This footage was taken during the spring and these bears were busy looking for food after a long winter.

Close Grizzly bear encounters happen usually when people roam into the territory of the bear and as you’ll see in this film, sometimes people tend to get much closer then they should.

All grizzlies are technically called “Brown Bears” and they are omnivores like their Black Bear cousins. Unlike the Black Bear, a Grizzly female will protect her young very aggressively instead of sitting by while the cubs climb a tree as a Black bear would. In fact they will even stand up to a larger male grizzly if that’s what it takes to protect her cubs. If you ever do run across the cubs in the wild keep your distance, mama bear is sure to be close by and she wont appreciate the company. Please remember that these beautiful bears need clean and healthy habitat to continue to allow us to have amazing Grizzly Bear Encounters!

I’m Mark Fraser and to read up on future wildlife adventures and how you can protect help wildlife habitat, visit my web page.

From Wildlife Extra:

Grizzly orphan returns to the wild in British Columbia

A one-year-old orphan grizzly cub, called Littlefoot, has been released back into the wild near Cranbrook in British Columbia, after being found in the spring severely underweight. It is believed he was orphaned last autumn.

During this time he has been cared for by the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) and gone from a scrawny 12.7kg to a far more respectable 48kg.

Lightfoot is part of a project, run by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, and the British Columbia Ministries of Environment, and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, that monitors whether orphaned grizzlies can survive when released back in the wild.

Lightfoot is the sixth release since the pilot project began in 2008, and is the first one-year-old that NLWS has prepared for release. He has been fitted with a satellite collar and will be monitored for the next 18 months.

“When he came in, Littlefoot was older than most of the bears we receive for care,” said Angelika Langen of NLWS. “Because he had lost his mother last fall and hibernated by himself, he was in bad condition.

“Thankfully, the Ministry of the Environment allowed this bear into our care for a limited time period to give him a chance to gain weight so he could look after himself.

“We’ve picked a great release site for him away from people with a good berry crop out there, and I think he has a good chance of survival.”

“We were thrilled to see the approval for a yearling cub to enter the rehabilitation process,” said Kelly Donithan, Animal Rescue Officer at IFAW. “Our wildlife rescue and rehabilitation pilot projects around the world have been providing evidence that animals can be rehabilitated from a young age and, upon release, not only survive but thrive in their natural habitat.

“We are excited to see how Littlefoot navigates his new lease on life and becomes a fully functioning wild bear.”