Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

INSIGHT: ICE CORE LOOKING GLASS

Evidence from the past provides a window into the Earth's future. A sediment core from 400m below the seabed of the Arctic Ocean showed that Fifty-five million years ago, deep in the Eocene, the North Pole was ice-free and enjoying tropical temperatures. It also tells us that the temperature of the ocean was 20C, instead of the coolish –1.5C we see today… a truth that is hard to imagine with all the press surrounding global warming.

The bottom end of that core helped explain the fossils found at Eocene sites around British Columbia, species commonly seen in more tropical environments today. The warmer temperatures seen at McAbee and around the globe were recorded in the core sample and reveal evidence for a global event known at the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Back in the Eocene, a gigantic emission of greenhouse gases was released into the atmosphere and the global temperature warmed by about 5C.

While the bookends of the geologic time scale slide back and forth a wee bit, the current experts in the geologic community set the limits to be 33.9 +_ 0.1 to 55.8 +_ 0.2 million years ago. The fossil record tells us that this part of British Columbia and much of the Earth was significantly warmer around that time, so warm in fact that we find temperate and tropical plant fossils in areas that now sport plants that prefer much colder climes, or as is the case in the Arctic, snow and ice.

The Okanagan Highlands is an area centred in the Interior of British Columbia, but the term is used in a slightly misleading fashion to describe an arc of Eocene lakebed sites that extend from Smithers in the north, down to the fossil site of Republic Washington. The grouping includes the fossil sites of Driftwood Canyon, Quilchena, Allenby, Tranquille, McAbee, Princeton and Republic. These fossil sites range in time from Early to Middle Eocene, and the fossil they contain give us a snapshot of what was happening in this part of the world because of the varied plant fossils they contain..

While the area around the Interior of British Columbia was affected. McAbee was not as warm as some of the other Middle Eocene sites, a fact inferred by what we see and what is conspicuously missing.

The plant species suggest that McAbee had a more temperate climate, slightly cooler and wetter than other Eocene sites to the south at Princeton, British Columbia and Republic and Chuckanut, Washington. Missing are the tropical Sabal (palm), seen at Princeton and the impressive Ensete (banana) and Zamiaceae (cycad) found at Republic and Chuckanut, Washington.

While we are the likely culprits of much of the warming of the Arctic today, the sediments of McAbee tell us that natural processes operating in the not too distant past have also resulted in significant temperature fluxuations on a world-wide scale.

Monday, 27 April 2009

"LOOK, LOOK, LOOK" A DAY AT THE ZOO

If you are feeling a bit hemmed in from all the cold weather, bundle up and take a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium, Science World or your local museum.

There is nothing more exciting than witnessing the awe on a child's face as they begin to explore the natural world.

If you've got a thing for fossils, remember to check out the ancient critters as well. The Royal BC Museum, Qualicum Beach Museum an Courtenay Museum all have permanent fossil displays. If you are in Vancouver, head on down to Science World to see their T-Rex. There re also many fossil exhibits planned at the new Beatty Biodiversity Museum openig later this year at UBC.

SAINT-RÉMY-DE-PROVENCE

Friday, 24 April 2009

Thursday, 23 April 2009

THE BEST OF SOOKE: TY COLLWYN RETREAT

Heading to Victoria for a jaunt or to the village of Sooke for a bit of fossil collecting?

Ty Collwyn Waterfront Retreat offers private, oceanfront, two bedroom cottages within walking distance from the heart of Sooke, on Vancouver Island. We are located just forty minutes west of Victoria; the capital city of British Columbia, Canada.
Our two cottages share wonderful ocean views of Sooke Harbour and the Juan de Fuca Strait; each with it's own deck and hot tub to soak away stress.

The grounds include a heated indoor pool, coin-operated laundry facilities, private dock, and waterfront with a fire pit, all surrounded by lush trees and an acre of grass area.

When you are not relaxing and enjoying your oceanfront view, take advantage of all that Sooke has to offer. Enjoy a scenic drive to our beautiful West Coast beaches, visit the Sooke Potholes, catch a wave surfing, go ocean kayaking, try a fishing charter, check out the Sooke Museum, walk along the wonderful Whiffin Spit, or travel any of the region's hiking trails on foot, rollerblade, or bicycle. There is so much to do!

Later, you can dine at the world renowned Sooke Harbour House Restaurant, famous Mom's Café, or create your own barbeque feast right on your deck.

BLUE PLANET | EARTH DAY 2010

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.

Earth Day has the power to bring about historic advances in climate policy, renewable energy and green jobs and catalyze millions who make personal commitments to sustainability - a billion acts of green – mobilizing the power of people to create change by taking small steps in our homes, our schools and our communities that add up to an enormous collective action. I'm making plans to better my neighborhood and my world. I'm raising seedlings to share the gift of life and a cleaner atmosphere. With every obstacle comes opportunity and right now, right here there is an unprecedented opportunity to build a new future.

Choose how you'll celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2010.
www.earthday.net/earthday2010

Thursday, 16 April 2009

ALCES ALCES: MOOSE

The moose is the largest member of the deer family. The genus and species of the moose are Alces alces.

Moose are found in northern forests in North America, Europe, and Russia. In Europe and Asia, moose are called elk. Moose are solitary animals who have a deep call and a strong scent.

They have a life span of about 17 years in the wild. If you ever have the pleasure of paddling the Bowron Lake Circuit, there are many great viewing spots which provide excellent photo ops for Moose.

Anatomy: The moose is about 7.5 feet (2.3 m) tall at the shoulder. Only the male moose, bulls, have antlers. The largest recorded antler spread is over 6.5 ft (2 m). The antlers are shed each year and regrow. Moose have hoofed feet, long legs, thick brown fur, a large body, and a droopy nose, and a dewlap (a flap of skin hanging loosely from the chin).

Behavior: The moose is an herbivore (a plant-eater) who spends most of the day eating. Moose prefer willow, birch, and aspen twigs, horsetail, sedges, roots, pond weeds, and grasses. They are excellent swimmers, strong runners and can turn on a dime. I've seen a Moose outrun a grizzly up near Barkerville on the Bowron Lake circuit.

Predators: The grizzly bear and man are the main predators of the moose.

Source: Enchanted Learning

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

AURORA BOREALIS

TIME FOR LUNCH

Tormented cries from mother as her cub is butchered and eaten...

Does it pull at your heart strings? Mine, too.

A rally of cries about a shark attack generally bring something less warm and fuzzy, something closer to terror and visions of a nasty end for some surfer. No surfer this time.

The 20th Century's most significant marine find became surf and turf himself at a recent feast in a village off the coast of Donsol in the Bicol Region of the Philippines.

More than a rare sighting, this is the 41st specimen ever known. A massive Megamouth, a rare breed of filter-feeding shark, was caught and killed then served up to locals eager to consume the traditional delicacy despite protests from the World Wildlife Federation.

While WWF tried to convey the magnitude of the slaying the world has to wonder if more should have been done. This was more than a rare sighting, this specimen was the 41st ever recorded of Megachasma pelagios.

Panda! Not this time. It was a deliverate ploy to get you to ponder your feelings on slugs vs. bunnies. If it is what enticed you to take a peek, however, perhaps we need to rethink our treatment of the ugly ducklings out there.

We tend to favour cute and cuddly. Dark grey, menacing distant cousins of Jaws don't bring out the maternal instinct quite as readily. Had this been a sighting of a rare panda set to be slaughtered to make soup with his paws, I'm sure Megamouth would have made both CNN and the BBC.

Might isn't right, but something more than sway was needed here.

Monday, 13 April 2009

HURDIA: BIZARRE FIND EXCITES SCIENTISTS

Scientists from Sweden’s Uppsala University have pieced together a bizarre marine predator who trolled the seas some 505-million years ago. Hurdia, had a giant head, protruding shield and claws for capturing prey. Bits and pieces of Hurdia have shown up in museums all over the world. Until now, they’ve been left unidentified or wildly mislabeled. Allison Daley, the lead author on the study, is set to publish in this month’s journal Science.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

MAMMALS

Mammals come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found all over the earth and come in all shapes and sizes. There are around 5500 species of mammals in all. You are a mammal, all of your friends are mammals and so is your dog. All mammals are warm-blooded and have either hair or fur on their bodies. The majority of all mammals give birth to live young, but there are a few species of mammals that lay eggs. The Triassic period, 220 million years ago, was the age that the first mammals can be found.

During the Triassic period, about 220 million years ago, the first Mammal species were roaming the Earth. These mammal ancestors were preceded by a group called the 'synapsids'. There were three distinct groups of creatures prior to the Triassic period, of which 'synapsid' is one. The others are 'diapsids' and 'anapsids'. The terminology makes reference to the holes on their skulls where the jaw muscles attach. 'Synapsids' (mammals) have one hole on either side, 'diapsids' (dinosaurs, reptiles, birds) have two holes on either side, and 'anapsids' (turtles) have none.

Mammal Classification list

- Subclass/Order Monotremata: egg-laying mammals
- Order Monotremata: echidnas and platypus
- Subclass Marsupialia: marsupials
- Order Didelphimorphia: New World opossums
- Order Paucituberculata: shrew opossums
- Order Microbiotheria: Monito del Monte
- Order Dasyuromorphia: marsupial carnivores
- Order Notoryctemorphia: marsupial mole
- Order Peramelemorphia: bandicoots and bilbies
- Order Diprotodontia: koalas, wombats, kangaroos
- Subclass Placentalia
- Order Xenarthra: sloths, anteaters, armadillos
- Superorder Glires
- Order Rodentia: rodents
- Order Lagomorpha: rabbits, hares
- Superorder Euarchonta:
- Order Primates: primates
- Order Scandentia: treeshrews
- Order Dermoptera: colugos
- Order Insectivora: shrews, tenrecs, moles
- Order Chiroptera: bats
- Order Carnivora: dogs, cats, weasels, seals
- Order Pholidota: pangolins
- Superorder Ungulata: ungulates
- Order Tubulidentata: aardvark
- Order Macroscelidea: elephant shrews
- Order Hyracoidea: hyraxes
- Order Proboscidea: elephants
- Order Sirenia: manatees, dugong
- Order Perissodactyla: horses, rhinos
- Order Artiodactyla: even-toed ungul
- Order Cetacea: whales

From Learn Animals! http://www.learnanimals.com/mammals.php

Sunday, 12 April 2009

WORLD THROUGH A LENS

ALPILLES

CLAM STEW: THE FOSSILS OF SOOKE

Sunshine, salt air, the bark of seals and fossils await for those lucky enough to beach comb the sandstones of Sooke on Vancouver Islands' southwestern edge.

Friends had the chance to collect there recently and found a number these lovely marine fossils near the exposure at Muir Creek.

Here you can see a budding paleontologist, holding some of his finds - blocks of late Oligocene, 20-25 million year old, sandstone full of small gastropods, bivalves and barnacle bits of the Sooke Formation.

By the late Oligocene ocean temperatures had cooled to near modern levels and the taxa preserved as fossils bear a strong resemblance to those found living beneath the Strait of Juan de Fuca today. Mammal material, echinoids, coral, chitin and limpets are also found here.

The largely intertidal assemblage of fossil species tell us that the formation was layed down near shore and the thickly strewn layers we see as blocks and in the nearby cliffs suggest that they may have been deposited along a strand line.

TY COLLWYN WATERFRONT RETREAT

If you are looking for a great place to stay, try the Ty Collwyn Waterfront Retreat, a fabulous B&B nestled on Sooke Harbour.

Ty Collwyn Waterfront Retreat offers private, oceanfront, two bedroom cottages within walking distance from the heart of Sooke, on Vancouver Island. We are located just forty minutes west of Victoria; the capital city of British Columbia, Canada.

Each cottage has an ocean view of Sooke Harbour and the Juan de Fuca Strait, private deck and hot tub. Yes, something like heaven!

The grounds include a heated indoor pool, coin-operated laundry facilities, private dock, and waterfront with a fire pit, all surrounded by lush trees and an acre of grass area.

When you are not relaxing and enjoying your oceanfront view, take advantage of all that Sooke has to offer. Enjoy a scenic drive to our beautiful West Coast beaches, visit the Sooke Potholes, catch a wave surfing, go ocean kayaking, try a fishing charter, check out the Sooke Museum, walk along the wonderful Whiffin Spit, or travel any of the region's hiking trails on foot, rollerblade, or bicycle.

Later, you can dine at the world renowned Sooke Harbour House Restaurant, famous Mom's Café, or create your own barbeque feast right on your deck.

Visit www.stayinsooke.com or email: info@sayinsooke.com

Friday, 10 April 2009

AVIGNON

EIGHTH BC PALEONTOLOGICAL SYMPOSIUM


Eighth
British
Columbia
Paleontological
Symposium

Presented by the Vancouver Paleontological Society,
University of British Columbia, Earth and Ocean Sciences, and
British Columbia Paleontological Alliance
MAY 15-18, 2009

Call for Posters & Abstracts

2009 BCPA CONFERENCE - The Vancouver Paleontological Society invites you the Eighth British Columbia Paleontological Symposium, to be held at the University of British Columbia, May 15-18, 2009.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER - This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Gregory Wilson, a specialist on the evolution and ecology of early mammals, University of Washington, Department of Biology. Continuing the format of past symposia, the meeting will bring together both the professional and avocational paleontological community.

As well as an engaging line-up of speakers, there will also be field trips, workshops, retail booth and the return of the popular Paleo Art Show with juried prizes. A Community Open House will be held on the Sunday for members of the general public.

FOSSIL MAMMALS - While the symposium will highlight fossil mammals, we invite talks, posters and displays showcasing all aspects of paleontology, with non-academics especially encouraged to contribute.

SYMPOSIUM ABSTRACT VOLUME - There will be a symposium abstract volume published and provided to all registrants. We request that speakers and poster presenters submit abstracts for the publication. Abstracts can be 1-4 pages (with 1 being standard) in length. Mailing and e-mail address of the author should be included for insertion in the volume.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION of posters and abstracts for publication is April 10, 2009. Submission of an abstract is mandatory for speakers and poster displays. Paleontologists unable to make the meeting but interested in contributing to the abstract volume to share their research on fossil mammals are welcome to contribute.

REGISTRATION – FULL SYMPOSIUM PASS
Professional Paleontologists $100 | Non-BCPA attendees $100 | BCPA Members $80 | Students $60

SEND CHEQUE PAYABLE TO:
Vancouver Paleontological Society, Centrepoint P.O. Box 19653, Vancouver, BC, V5T 4E7

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
www.bcfossils.ca | http://www.vcn.bc.ca/vanps/ | fossilhuntress@hotmail.co.uk

Wednesday, 1 April 2009