Shoveler ducks wintering in Utah, USA, from where?


This is a northern shoveler video.

From The Wilson Journal of Ornithology in the USA:

Breeding origins of Northern Shovelers (Anas Clypeata) wintering on the Great Salt Lake, Utah

Anthony J. Roberts, and Michael R. Conover

ABSTRACT

The breeding origin and migratory connectivity of wintering birds are important to address how population changes on wintering areas are impacted by changes elsewhere in the birds’ annual cycle. In addition, identifying important point sources of nutrients used throughout the annual cycle can assist managers in identifying sources of toxins or pathogens.

We used stable hydrogen isotope ratios to identify breeding locations of Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata; henceforth shoveler) wintering at the Great Salt Lake (GSL), Utah. Stable-isotope likelihood-based assignment placed the largest number of shovelers collected during winter on the GSL as breeding in the western US and southern Canada, similar to a small sample size of banding records.

Shovelers wintering on the GSL generally did not breed locally or at the northern extent of their breeding range, rather wintering shovelers came from across their nesting range.

Ordovician echinoderm fossil from Utah, USA


This video is called Life Science – Echinoderms.

From Fossil Roulette:

30 January 2015

Name: Haimacystis rozhnovi
Location: Utah, USA, Wah Wah Limestone
Age: 466-488 million years ago, Ordovician Period

The early history of major groups of animals is often messy and mysterious. The suite of features that make those groups distinctive today show up piecemeal in different combinations in early species, like Haimacystis.

A long, thin column of discs and a flattened pod with a few wispy arms make up the body of this individual of Haimacystis. The animal is part of the same group that includes living sea stars, sea cucumbers, and intricately crowned sea lilies. The group also includes little-known, extinct animals like rhombiferans and corkscrew-armed gogiids.

Sea stars, sea lilies and other living animals in that group all have skeletons of calcified plates. All have five-part bodies that are usually symmetric.

Individuals of Haimacystis share some features with living members of their group, but their other features blur the neat distinctions that make five-part animals so different from other groups. They have calcified plates but they also have nineteen arms instead of five or ten. At best, they have two-part symmetry.

Haimacystis wasn’t a forerunner of its living relations or a species “on the way” to a more recognizable animals like starfish. Multiple species of sea lilies, one species of animals distantly related to sea stars, and at least six species of other early, irregular, extinct animals lived alongside Haimacystis. Haimacystis is its own subplot in the story of five-part animals.

Specimen Number: 1810TX5

References:

Sumrall, Colin D., James Sprinkle, and Thomas E. Guensburg. “Comparison of flattened blastozoan echinoderms: Insights from the early Ordovician eocrinoid Haimacystis rozhnovi.” Journal of Paleontology 75(2001):985-992.

Where are similar fossils found?

Bonus: The fossil’s name has an interesting backstory. “Haimacystis is a compound of the Greek haima, flowing blood, and cystis, sac, referring to the blood dripping from superficial leg wounds suffered by one of the co-authors when the biggest slab of specimens described herein toppled over and almost crushed him.” – Sumrall et al. 2001, p. 992

Utahraptor dinosaur mass grave discovery


This video from the USA says about itself:

Gastonia vs Utahraptor– Epic!

This fight was a real fight that was recorded in bones! The Utahraptor was attacking such an armed dinosaur cause it was about to die by lack of food during a drought. And in the end both animals died, the Gastonia died by its wounds which the Utahraptor inflicted on its belly and legs. And the Gastonia died only 10 feet away after walking from the dead Utahraptor.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Fossil treasure trove in quicksand reveals ancient dinosaur death trap

By Rachel Feltman

January 7 at 9:35 AM

Reports of what looked like a human arm brought Utah state paleontologist James Kirkland to a particular sandstone hill in 2001. But it turned out that his graduate student had actually found something entirely different — a veritable mass grave of Utahraptor dinosaurs. Now they’ve found the remains of six individual dinosaurs, and there may still be more inside of the 9-ton sandstone block they’re excavating.

That “arm” was actually a foot, and the fossil bits just kept coming. The site is now the largest find ever for this particular species, which was a large, feathered cousin to the more familiar Velociraptor. It seems that these unfortunate raptors were trapped in quicksand — sand so heavy with water that it loses much of the friction between its grains. Quicksand isn’t actually the deathtrap for humans that cinema would have us believe, but for a frightened animal who couldn’t gain purchase, it might have meant suffocation or slow starvation — or simply getting stuck until a bigger predator arrived to finish the job.

Brian Switek for National Geographic reports that a plant-eating dinosaur was found at the site, too, which could mean that the raptors all died at the same time while hunting the trapped creature. That would be exciting, because despite their depiction as pack hunters in the “Jurassic Park” films, we don’t have much evidence about whether dinosaurs like these came in droves or hunted solo.

If the researchers can show that the raptors grew tangled up together as they struggled to get free, or find evidence that the same weather patterns affected their bones when they died, it would add weight to the notion that raptors liked to rumble in gangs.

You can see clips of the excavation in progress over at National Geographic.

Grand Canyon wolf killed by hunter?


This video from Arizona in the USA is called Grand Canyon National Park.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

US hunter ‘shoots dead’ historic first grey wolf seen in Grand Canyon for 70 years

‘Echo’ attracted national attention when she made her way to the Arizona landmark through several states

Laura Zuckerman

Wednesday 31 December 2014

A gray wolf killed by a Utah hunter may have been “Echo,” a female who attracted national attention after wandering through several states to become the first of the protected animals seen at Arizona’s Grand Canyon in 70 years, officials have said.

The hunter, who was not named by authorities, told Utah wildlife officers on Sunday that he accidentally shot and killed a wolf equipped with a radio collar near the Arizona border after mistaking it for a coyote.

Wolves in Utah are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, which bans killing of imperiled animals without a special permit, but coyotes in the state are allowed to be shot on sight.

The incident, which is coming under sharp criticism by conservationists, is being investigated by federal and state conservation officers as a possible violation of U.S. and Utah wildlife laws, authorities said.

Information gleaned from the radio collar shows the wolf killed in Utah was a 3-year-old female that was captured and collared in January in northwest Wyoming, said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Martinez.

The wolf spotted near the northern rim of the Grand Canyon in October was also a young female, which had apparently roamed hundreds of miles (km) south from the Northern Rockies, according to an analysis of droppings near where she was seen.

It may be weeks before additional testing reveals whether the wolf killed in Utah is the same one, which was nicknamed Echo in a contest.

Echo was the first gray wolf seen in the Grand Canyon since the 1940s, when the last wolf there was killed as part of an extensive eradication campaign, said Chris Cline with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The gray wolf is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in most states.

Utah regulations require hunters to properly identify their target before shooting but cases of mistaken identity sometimes happen, Martinez said.

“It’s something we train people for in hunter education classes but it’s not a unique thing,” he said.

The hunter who shot the wolf near the city of Beaver in southwest Utah immediately contacted the state to report the incident as required by law, Martinez said. He said several coyotes in Utah have been equipped with radio collars tied to a research project.

Wildlife advocates said the death was shameful, whether or not the wolf was Echo.

“It’s very sad either way,” said Michael Robinson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Dinosaur with big nose discovery


This video is about hadrosaurs.

From North Carolina State University in the USA:

Hadrosaur with huge nose discovered: Function of dinosaur’s unusual trait a mystery

September 19, 2014

Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs — a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

Rhinorex, which translates roughly into “King Nose,” was a plant-eater and a close relative of other Cretaceous hadrosaurs like Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus. Hadrosaurs are usually identified by bony crests that extended from the skull, although Edmontosaurus doesn’t have such a hard crest (paleontologists have discovered that it had a fleshy crest). Rhinorex also lacks a crest on the top of its head; instead, this new dinosaur has a huge nose.

Terry Gates, a joint postdoctoral researcher with NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and colleague Rodney Sheetz from the Brigham Young Museum of Paleontology, came across the fossil in storage at BYU. First excavated in the 1990s from Utah’s Neslen formation, Rhinorex had been studied primarily for its well-preserved skin impressions. When Gates and Sheetz reconstructed the skull, they realized that they had a new species.

“We had almost the entire skull, which was wonderful,” Gates says, “but the preparation was very difficult. It took two years to dig the fossil out of the sandstone it was embedded in — it was like digging a dinosaur skull out of a concrete driveway.”

Based on the recovered bones, Gates estimates that Rhinorex was about 30 feet long and weighed over 8,500 lbs. It lived in a swampy estuarial environment, about 50 miles from the coast. Rhinorex is the only complete hadrosaur fossil from the Neslen site, and it helps fill in some gaps about habitat segregation during the Late Cretaceous.

“We’ve found other hadrosaurs from the same time period but located about 200 miles farther south that are adapted to a different environment,” Gates says. “This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous, and helps us place contemporary species in their correct time and place. Rhinorex also helps us further fill in the hadrosaur family tree.”

When asked how Rhinorex may have benefitted from a large nose Gates said, “The purpose of such a big nose is still a mystery. If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell; but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak. We are already sniffing out answers to these questions.”

The scientific dewscription of this new species is here.

See also here.

Utah dinosaur tracks site open to the public


This video from the USA is called Dinosaur Footprints Set For Public Display In Utah.

From Associated Press:

Site of dinosaur tracks to be unveiled

by Brady Mccombs

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – A dry wash full of 112-million-year-old dinosaur tracks that include an ankylosaurus, dromaeosaurus and a menacing ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus rex, is set to open to the public this fall in Utah.

There are more than 200 tracks near the city of Moab from 10 different ancient animals that lived during the early Cretaceous period, said Utah Bureau of Land Management paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster.

They were first discovered in 2009 by a resident. Since then, paleontologists led by a team at the University of Colorado at Denver have studied them and prepared them to go on display for the general public.

The tracks include a set of 17 consecutive footprints left by [a] Tyrannosaurus rex ancestor and the imprint of an ancient crocodile pushing off into the water.

The site is one of the largest areas of dinosaur tracks from the early Cretaceous period known to exist in North America, she said.

“We don’t usually get this,” said Hunt-Foster, a paleontologist for 16 years. “It is a beautiful track site, one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.”

There are footprints from duckbilled dinosaurs, prehistoric birds, long-necked plant eaters and a dromaeosaur similar to a velociraptor or Utahraptor that had long, sharp claws.

In one rock formation, a footprint left behind by a large plant eater is right in the middle of prints from a meat-eating theropod, Hunt-Foster said.

The imprint of an ancient crocodile shows the chest, body, tail and one foot. Paleontologists believe it was made while the crocodile was pushing off a muddy bank into water.

Paleontologists believe the tracks were made over several days in what was a shallow lake. They likely became covered by sediment that filled them up quickly enough to preserve them but gently enough not to scour them out, Hunt-Foster said. Over time, as more sediment built up, they became rock. They’re near a fault line, where the land has moved up and down over the years, she said. Rain slowly eroded away layers of the rock, exposing the footprints.