Canadian wildlife discoveries

This video from Canada says about itself:

This young bald eagle was released outside Windsor, Nova Scotia after rehabilitation at the Hope for Wildlife Centre.

From the Sackville Tribune Post in Canada:

Conservation scientists make interesting discoveries in 2011

Katie Tower

Published on June 27, 2012

SACKVILLE, NB – The team of scientists at Atlantic Canada’s Conservation Data Centre (ACCDC) have had another busy and productive year, discovering several new species of flora and fauna in the Maritimes and gathering data that is essential in helping to protect the natural environment.

“It’s been an exciting year for the CDC,” said Sherman Boates, chair of the Sackville-based conservation centre during the group’s annual general meeting earlier this month.

Through their extensive field work in 2011, the staff not only identified a number of new provincial species records of flower fly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but also found three plant species, two dragonfly species and a butterfly species never before documented in Nova Scotia. One of those plant species, the Maleberry, was also a new species for Canada and will likely be listed as a federal Species at Risk in the future.

Boates applauded the work of the staff – who have a broad range of expertise in botany, zoology, landscape ecology and forestry – saying their “remarkable amount of knowledge” has really made a difference in the world of conservation.

Botanists Sean Blaney and David Mazerolle made the Maleberry discovery late last summer on a property purchased last year by the Nova Scotia Nature Trust near Springhaven in Yarmouth County.

The Maleberry, a coastal plain shrub, is a member of the blueberry family that can reach heights of 3.5 m (12 feet) and does not produce edible fruit. It is otherwise found in southern Maine and southward through the eastern United States and it joins a suite of 40 other “Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora” species restricted within Canada to the special climatic and environmental conditions of southern Nova Scotia.

Blaney and Mazerolle located a small population of the Maleberry in a swamp on Long Lake.

“It’s one of the best finds we’ve had since I’ve been at the CDC,” said Mazerolle. “It’s a new species for Canada . . . and it’s a good candidate to become a listed species.

During that same trip, Mazerolle and Blaney also found Canada’s third population of the Threatened Water Pennywort, a small population of the provincially-endangered Eastern White Cedar and a large population of Spotted Pondweed, currently under evaluation as a potential provincially-endangered species.

Also last summer, during a plant survey for the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, the botanists discovered an extremely rare plant at Shingle Lake Barrens in Nova Scotia – Bluecurls, a member of the mint family.

“This hadn’t ever been found before in Nova Scotia . . . and it’s quite rare in Canada,” said Blaney. “So that was an exciting find.”

He noted the Bluecurls are now a high-priority candidate for federal evaluation under the species of concern list.

John Klymko, zoologist with the conservation data centre, also kept busy in 2011, continuing his efforts on the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas, a five-year citizen science project that was launched in 2010 to help document butterfly occurrences in the Maritimes. The first two years of the effort has produced more than 6,000 records with 80 different butterfly species documented.

Klymko said in 2011, there were a number of spottings of rare species in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and also documentation of a significant range expansion for one species in particular, the Salt Marsh Copper.

Populations of the Salt Marsh Copper were detected twice in the Cape Breton area last August, the first time the species was documented that far away from its known range of the Gaspe Peninsula, Chaleur Bay, the Northumberland Coast and coastal areas of PEI.

Klymko said the butterfly atlas project, which is the first comprehensive survey of butterflies ever done in the region, just recently received national coverage on the Weather Network, hopefully helping the ACCDC “reach a whole new demographic” of volunteers who want to participate in the initiative.

Klymko also conducted both Dragonfly and Pollinator surveys last summer, identifying new species of dragonflies in Nova Scotia and new provincial records of flower fly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 26 of which were new to the Maritimes.

Also moving forward with research last year was Sarah Robinson, who works in landscape ecology. Robinson conducted a biodiversity assessment of the coastal dune systems of Nova Scotia, the “first data of this type and in this much detail ever done in the province.”

Robinson collected data from 12 different dune systems and 300 plots within those systems. During her research, she came across a number of rare species, including Umbellate Bastard Toadflax and Slender Flatsedge, and also noted the unique conditions of some of the dune systems which were dominated by Bearberry, a species of dwarf shrub, or lichens. She was also able to document the prevalence of exotic species that were of concern, such as Purple Loosestrife and Scotch Broom.

Oldest reptile footprints discovered

This video says about itself:

Walking with Monsters” (also distributed as “Before the Dinosaurs: Walking With Monsters” or “Walking with Monsters: Life before Dinosaurs”) is a BBC´s three-part British documentary film series about life in the Paleozoic, bringing to life extinct arthropods, fish, amphibians, synapsids, and reptiles. Using state-of-the-art visual effects, this is the prequel to “Walking with Dinosaurs” and shows nearly 300 million years of Paleozoic history, from the Cambrian Period (530 million years ago) to the Early Triassic Period (248 million years ago).

I made a video where I put together some shots of my favourite creatures. Animals shown are:

Anomalocaris (“Anomalous shrimp“) an 1 meter wide creature thought to be closely related to the arthropods.

Arthropleura was a 0.3–2.6 meter (1–8.5 feet) long relative of centipedes and millipedes, native to the Upper Carboniferous (340-280 million years ago). It was the largest known land invertebrate of all time.

Brontoscorpio (“thunder scorpion“) was a 1-metre long aquatic scorpion that lived during the Silurian period.

Diictodon was an herbivorous, roughly 45 cm (18 inches) long. He digs holes and hide under the ground, to escape from predators.

Dimetrodon was a predatory synapsid (‘mammal-like reptile’) genus that flourished during the Permian Period, living between 280-265 million years ago. It was more closely related to mammals than to true reptiles such as lizards. Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur, despite being popularly grouped with them. It grew to up to 3 1/2 meters (11 feet) in length. The name Dimetrodon means ‘two-measures of teeth’, so named because it had a large skull with two different types of teeth (shearing teeth and sharp canine teeth), unlike reptiles.

Edaphosaurus (“earth lizard”) was a primitive herbivorous pelycosaur. Shown in herds being watched by Dimetrodon.

Hyneria was a prehistoric predatory fish that lived during the Devonian period around 360 million years ago. It was approximately 4 meters in length and weighed as much as two tons. There is also evidence from bones that it had very strong fins and maybe could go onto land.

Meganeura was a predatory prehistoric insect of the Carboniferous period (300 million years ago), resembling and related to the present-day dragonfly. With a wingspan of more than 75 cm (2.5 feet) wide, it was the largest known flying insect species to ever appear on Earth.

Proterosuchus was the largest land reptile during the Early Triassic period, equivalent in size to today’s Komodo Dragons. It looked similar to a primitive crocodile.

Pterygotus is the second-largest known sea scorpion and one of the largest arthropods of all time. It could reach a length of 2.3 m (about 7 feet). A female is shown capturing a brontoscorpio to feed her young.

Trilobites (“three-lobes”) appeared in the Early Cambrian period and flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic era. The last of the trilobites disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago. Because of their diversity and an easily fossilized exoskeleton, they left an extensive fossil record with some 17,000 known species, making them a very famous fossil group.

(From Wikipedia)

Music: Yanni — “November sky” (From “With I Could tell You” Album)

Images and musics copyright of their respective owners.

From the Daily Telegraph in England:

Oldest reptile footprints found

Reptile footprints, believed to be the oldest ever discovered, provide evidence of the first creatures to live exclusively on land, scientists say.

Published: 2:46AM BST 30 Jul 2010

The 318 million-year-old fossilised reptile footprints were found in sea-cliffs on the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada by Dr Howard Falcon-Lang of Royal Holloway, University of London.

The discovery proves the theory that reptiles were the first to make the continental interiors their home.

This is because reptiles do not need to return to water to breed unlike their amphibian cousins.

The rocks in which they occur show that the reptiles lived on dry river plains hundreds of miles from the sea.

These pioneers then paved the way for the diverse ecosystems that exist on land today, the study showed.

The study, undertaken with Professor Mike Benton of the University of Bristol and Canadian colleagues, was published in journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Professor Benton said: ”The footprints date from the Carboniferous Period when a single supercontinent (Pangaea) dominated the world.

”At first life was restricted to coastal swamps where lush rainforest existed, full of giant ferns and dragonflies.

”However, when reptiles came on the scene they pushed back the frontiers, conquering the dry continental interiors.”

The same team reported the oldest known reptile footprints from a different site in New Brunswick in 2007.

The new discovery is of similar age, and may be even older.

Dr Falcon-Lang added: ”The Bay of Fundy is such an amazing place to hunt for fossils.

”The sea-cliffs are rapidly eroding and each rock-fall reveals exciting new fossils. You just never know what will turn up next.’

See also here. And here. And here. And here.

The discovery of ancient crocodile fossils in Tanzania by a National Geographic grantee shows the croc was more like a mammal than other reptiles of its era. The reptile had mammal-like teeth and legs as well as nostrils on the front of its head, indicating that the animal spent more time on land than crocodiles of today: here.

Permian pelycosaur (?) discovered in Germany: here.

Probably the largest flying insect that ever lived, fossils of Meganeuropsis permiana have been discovered that have a wing span of just under 30 inches and a total body length of 17 inches. These were the largest creatures flying in the Carboniferous and Permian skies and like their smaller close relatives the modern dragonflies were voracious predators. Or perhaps more accurately, even more so: here.

Back in the Permo-Carboniferous era, some 350-300 million years ago, our atmosphere was much richer in oxygen. There were also some monster insects on the prowl, and it’s long been hypothesised that the enriched air was a vital prerequisite for their survival: here.

New discoveries on oldest fossil reptiles

This is a short music video about Hylonomus.

From the Journal of the Geological Society of London:

Ecology of earliest reptiles inferred from basal Pennsylvanian trackways

Trackways representing the earliest evidence for the origin of reptiles (amniotes) are reported from the basal Pennsylvanian Grande Anse Formation, New Brunswick, Canada. Amniote characters include pentadactyl manus and pes, slender digits whose relative lengths approximate a phalangeal formula of 23453 (manus) and 23454 (pes), narrow digit splay (40–63°), putative transverse scale impressions on digit pads, and straight tail drag. The trackways occur in the deposits of a seasonally active dryland river channel. Sedimentological context suggests, for the first time, that early amniotes existed in water-stressed environments, where the cleidoic egg would have presumably conferred reproductive advantage.

According to Dutch daily NRC of 18 October 2007, the tracks are probably by the early lizard-like reptile Hylonomus lyelli. And they are about 315 million year old, over a million years older than that species was thought to be so far.

See also here. And here.