Monday, 31 December 2007
CARCHARDONTOSAURUS GOES EXTINCT TWICE
Tooth fragments collected by Charles Depéret and J. Savornin in 1927 were misplaced before this meat-eater could ever be described and when additional material was collected in Egypt in the 1930’s it also came to an unfortunate end. Sent to German paleontologists in Munich to describe, the fossils were lost in the rubble as Allied Forces bombed the building in which they were housed during WW II.
But the rocky history and luck of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis improved when paleontologist Paul Sereno found cranial material on a Moroccan dig in 1996. That find combined with material collected the following year in Nigeria were examined by Sereno and Steve Brusatte, a paleobiologist at the University of Bristol in England, and Paul Sereno and determined to be a new species, not C. saharicus as originally thought.
The massive skull, neck and bone fragments belonged to Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, one of the largest dinosaurs ever found. Carcharodontosaurus differs from C. saharicus, his smaller Saharan coursin, both in the maxilla and braincase. Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis walked upright and was a massive beast, weighing in at an impressive 3.2 tons.
Extending upwards of 14 meters (44 ft), nearly as long as Tyrannosaurs, alive today they could easily peer through a second story window - a menacing thought as they were well-equipped hunters with sizable teeth.The climate was much warmer when Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis and C. saharicus roamed the Earth and the seas much higher. Beyond geographic distance, the raised sea level may have been what set these therapods apart. Shallow seas separated what is now Morocco and Nigeria and this separation may have prompted the development of the unique characteristics define the two species.. Perhaps more abundant prey and favorable conditions allowed Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis to grow to their huge size while C. saharicus remained a smallish 1.6 meters (5.2 ft).
While not a reptile, C. saharicus has been compared with modern Crocodylia, another group who first appeared in the Cretaceous, as they share similar inner ear anatomy and cerebrum size relative to total brain. Like many therapods prior to the 1930’s, the African species were originally misgrouped into the genus Megalosaurus. Paleontologist Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach corrected this error.
After taking a closer look at their anatomy, particularly their dentition, he renamed them Carcharodontosaurus in 1931 citeing their "mainly Carcharodon-like teeth", which were "not recurved, almost bilaterally symmetrical but with convex edges” The Carcharodontosaurids were a group of gigantic carnivorous carcharodontosaurid dinosaurs that lived 98 to 93 million years ago.
Carcharodontosaurus means 'shark lizard', after the shark genus Carcharodon, an apt handle as they were ominous killers with enormous jaws and long, serrated teeth, some as long as eight inches.
Thursday, 27 December 2007
Fossil Field Trip to the Olympic Peninsula
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
While rare today, these are British Columbia’s only native oyster. Had you been dining on their brethren in the 1800s or earlier, it would have been this species you were consuming. Middens from Port Hardy to California are built from Ostrea lurida.
These wonderful invertebrates bare their souls with every bite. Have they lived in cold water, deep beneath the sea away from the suns rays and heat? Are they the rough and tumbled beach denizens whose thick shells have formed to withstand the pounding of the sea?
Is the oyster in your mouth thin and slimy having just done the nasty spurred by the warming waters of Spring? Is this oyster a local or was it shipped to your current local and if asked would greet you with "Kon'nichiwa?" Not if the beauty on your plate is indeed Ostrea lurida.
We have been cultivating, indeed maximizing the influx of invasive species to the cold waters of the Salish Sea. But in the wild waters off the coast of British Columbia is the last natural abundant habitat of the tasty Ostrea lurida in the pristine waters of Nootka Sound. The area is home to the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations who have consumed this species boiled or steamed for thousands of years. Here these ancient oysters not only survive but thrive — building reefs and providing habitat for crab, anemones and small marine animals.
Oysters are in the family Ostreidae — the true oysters. Their lineage evolved in the Early Triassic — 251 - 247 million years ago.
In the Kwak̓wala language of the Kwakiutl or Kwakwaka'wakw, speakers of Kwak'wala, of the Pacific Northwest, an oyster is known as t̕łox̱t̕łox̱. I am curious to learn if any of the Nuu-chah-nulth have a different word for an oyster. If you happen to know, I would be grateful to learn.
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
BLUE JAYS: KWASK'WAS
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
Qualicum Beach: The Gem of Vancouver Island
Whether its the beach that draws you or the leisurely stroll through town, you have many options for your oceanside visit. Visit the local galleries, boutiques and cafes that make Qualicum feel like a European village or check out their famous garage sales for their many bargains.
The outdoor enthusiast will appreciate the long stretches of sandy beach, old growth forests, nearby mountains with winter skiing and mild climate for year-round golf.
A trip to Qualicum Beach is a bit like visiting a garden county in England, all hanging baskets and clipped lawns. There are many hidden treasures in the area.
You could take in the fresh air and hike the alpine trail leading to Mount Arrowsmith Lookout or follow gentle paths amongst the 850 year old Douglas Firs at MacMillan Park’s Cathedral Grove.
There are fossils to be found... though not extracted from the park at Englishman River Falls or you could explore the Crystalline interior of the Horne Lake underground caves - an intriguing side trip just west of the town of Qualicum. Those in the know travel to these moist refuges to take in the quiet and walk in wonder and shadow with the help of one of the local guides.
No trip to Qualicum Beach is complete without a trip to the Qualicum Museum.
Here you’ll see the life-time collection of Graham Beard, co-author of West Coast Fossils and Chair of the Vancouver Island Paleontological Museum Society. With his wife, Tina, a talented artist and fossil collector in her own right, he has been actively collecting fossils on Vancouver Island for over 30 years.
From the Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo, stay to your right and head up the hill and head north on the Island Hwy north. Take the Qualicum turn-off. The road heads straight through this picturesque little town, past quaint little coffee shops and continues to the seashore. To visit the Qualicum Museum, turn left onto Sunningdale just as you cross the railroad tracks.
The museum is at the end of the street. They have a sweet interglacial walrus found in Qualicum and a nice selection of other local fossils.
Saturday, 17 November 2007
Friday, 16 November 2007
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Sunday, 21 October 2007
HOWE SOUND CORRIDOR
This treasure trove wilderness playground stretches along the breathtaking Sea-to-Sky Highway affording breathtaking views of the Pacific as it follows Highway 99 north out of the sparkling gem of Vancouver from Lions Bay, through Squamish and Garibaldi and into the picturesque Whistler Valley.
As you drive out of the city, look at the mountains to the north. Grouse, Cypress and Seymour mountains provide easy access skiing for the happy winter adventurer and a beautiful backdrop to the young city of Vancouver, Canada's third-largest metropolis, year-round.
While the city sits on relatively young sandstone and mudstone, the North Shore Mountains are made from granite that formed deep within the Earth more than 100 million years ago.
Following Highway 99, you’ll hug the coastline of Howe Sound, a glacially carved fiord which extends from Horseshoe Bay (20 km northwest of Vancouver) to the hamlet of Squamish. The road is perched high above the water, blasted into the rock of the steep glacial-valley slope and has been the chosen path for First Nation hunters, early explorers, the miners of the Gold Rush and now the rush of tourism.
Carved from the granitic mountainside high above Howe Sound, this scenic pathway has been a rich recreation corridor and traditional First Nation hunting ground for many years.
Steeped in a First Nations history, bountiful wildlife and gorgeous vistas, the Whistler corridor is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful spots on the globe with something for everyone.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Saturday, 13 October 2007
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Pterodactyl-Inspired Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with Multimodal Locomotion
View abstract, session no. 260, paper no. 12: Pterodactyl-Inspired Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with Multimodal Locomotion at:
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Neanderthals.. not the coolest of the cool kids
Do you suppose Neanderthals died out because of some lack of evolutionary skill or perhaps their small, inbred population with a sea of genetic mutations and mouths gaped widely meant the cooler kids, the homo sapien hipsters, just wouldn't play nice, hang out and interbreed?
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Thursday, 5 July 2007
Monday, 2 July 2007
Monday, 11 June 2007
Saturday, 9 June 2007
Unveiling the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Saturday, 5 May 2007
by Heidi Henderson
Mid-way through a paddling trip in the beautiful Bowron lake Circuit, we reach the end of Babcock Lake and prepare for our next portage. Philip and I are photo bugs and I get my camera out to take advantage of the angle of the sun and the eroded rounded hilltops of the Quesnel Highlands that stand as backdrop. Looking around for material to shoot, Leanne pipes up and says she can see a moose a little ways off and that it appeared to be heading our way. Yes, heading our way quickly with a baby moose in tow. I lift my lens to immortalize the moment.... We three realized the moose are heading our way in double time because they are being chased by a grizzly at top speed.
"Grizzly!" The three of us gather together to prepare for what is racing towards us.
A full-grown moose can run up to fifty-six kilometres per hour, slightly faster than a Grizzly. They are also strong swimmers. Had she been alone, Mamma moose would likely have tried to out swim the bear. Currently, however, this is not the case. From where we stand we can see the water turned to white foam at their feet as they fly towards us.
We freeze, bear spray in hand. In seconds the three were upon us. Mamma moose, using home field advantage, runs straight for us and just reaching our boats, turned 90 degrees, bolting for the woods, baby moose fast on her heels. The Grizzly, caught up in the froth of running and thrill of the kill, doesn’t notice the deke, hits the brakes at the boats and stands up, confused.Her eyes give her away. This was not what she had planned and the whole moose-suddenly-transformed-into-human thing is giving her pause. Her head tilts back as she gets a good smell of us. Suddenly, a crack in the woods catches her attention. Her head snaps round and she drops back on all fours, beginning her chase anew. Somewhere there is a terrified mother moose and calf hoping the distance gained is enough to keep them from being lunch. I choose to believe both moose got away with the unwitting distraction we provided, but I’m certainly grateful we did.
The Lakes are at an elevation of over 900 m (3000 ft) and both grizzly and black bear sightings are common. Both bear families descend from a common ancestor, Ursavus, a bear-dog the size of a raccoon who lived more than 20 million years ago. Seems an implausible lineage having just met one of the larger descendents.While we’d grumbled only hours earlier about how tired we were feeling, we now feel quite motivated and do the next two portages and lakes in good time.
Aside from the gripping fear that another bear encounter is imminent, we enjoy the park-like setting, careful to scan the stands of birch trees for dark shapes now posing as stumps.
Fortunately, the only wildlife we see are a few wily chipmunks, various reticent warblers and some equally shy spruce grouse.
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
CHAMPS DES PAVOTS ET DU BLÉ
Thursday, 19 April 2007
Monday, 5 March 2007
Friday, 16 February 2007
Sunday, 11 February 2007
Sunday, 28 January 2007
Saturday, 27 January 2007
Thursday, 11 January 2007
OLYMPIC PENINSULA FOSSIL FIELD TRIP
The specimens we’ll find at Clallam are mostly shallow-water from the late Eocene to Miocene. Time, tide and weather permitting, we will be sampling the south flank of a syncline at Slip Point, near Clallam Bay; we may also try our luck at two or three other fossil sites, the Twin Rivers Clay Mine (with permission), which yields great gastropods and ghost shrimp claws in concretion, a site near Neah bay with crab fossils in concretion and, Majestic Beach, a site where we can find elusive fossil whale bone.
This is an excellent place for you to top up your food stores and fill up with gas. Just after Port Angeles, look for a sign for Hwy 112 (towards Joyce, Neah Bay & Seiqu). Turn right and head West. It is about another 30 kms from Port Angeles to Whiskey Creek. From the turn-off it is about 10 miles to Joyce. This little town has restaurants and gas stations.
The Whiskey Creek Campsite is open from May 1st to Oct 1st for tenting and year-round for their cabins. Cabins range in price from $70 - $80US/night and sleep 4. They are all right on the ocean except for one, which is set back a ways. Several of the cabins have in-suite washroom, incl. Showers, kitchenette & stoves. Codfish Cottage is all propane and has an elevated Queen bed and a hide-a-bed. The higher priced cabins are full propane and the cheaper ones are wood heat.
You’ll also want a backpack, chisel, newspaper to wrap fossils, hammer, goggles, gloves, hat and outer wear. A notebook and pencil for field notes. Tide & Ferry Info… Tide Tables On-line: http://www.portangeles.org/20.html www. harbourtides.com (look for Crescent Bay, WA) Washington Ferry Info: Tel: 1-800-84Ferry Sidney, Vancouver Island: Tel: (250) 656.1531 Kilometer Markings…