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OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 23, 2017) - The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences, announced today its largest-ever philanthropic gift - a $4 million investment from the Ross Beaty family in Vancouver, which will enhance the museum's national research and collections efforts focussed on species discovery. The $4 million gift will support three key initiatives which are core to what will be known as the museum's Beaty Centre for Species Discovery. This Centre of Excellence, which draws on the museum's national collections and the expertise of its scientific staff, is dedicated to creating, advancing and sharing knowledge about the discovery, naming, evolution, ecology and classification of species, both in the past and the present. The Beaty investment will support: All will be based at the museum's national research and collections facility, the Natural Heritage Campus, in Gatineau, Quebec. "The Beaty family's extraordinary generosity is a tremendous endorsement of the Canadian Museum of Nature's legacy in natural history research, collections management and public outreach about the natural world," says Meg Beckel, the museum's President and CEO. "We hope this transformational gift will inspire others to support the work of the museum, as we expand the museum's ability to share its knowledge worldwide, to mentor future scientists and to inspire understanding, respect and appreciation of the natural world for a better natural future." The gift was announced at an event in the presence of Ross and Trisha Beaty, who reside in Vancouver. Mr. Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur, and his wife Trisha Beaty is a physician. Their passion for nature and the environment impelled them to support the museum's mission. "I'm always reminded that less than one percent of human philanthropy goes to nature and the environment. Yet our one species is having such a heavy footprint on the other millions of species that don't have voices. So I'm most pleased to lend my support to the museum and its research expertise," says Ross Beaty, whose philanthropy also led to the creation of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum on the campus of the University of British Columbia. "My hope is that this investment will help promote the Canadian Museum of Nature as a great Canadian biodiversity research institution and enhance its reputation as a great national natural history museum." "The Canadian Museum of Nature plays a vital role in preserving Canada's resources, educating Canadians and inspiring innovation. This donation will enable the museum to further protect and promote our unique natural heritage and diversity, allowing for a meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, we encourage Canadians across the country to visit museums, learn from them and reconnect with their history and culture," says the the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Two million dollars from the $4 million gift will fund the creation of a national cryogenic facility, which will include an examination room, and large, super-cooled vats filled with liquid nitrogen to house tissue samples and genetic material. The material to be stored will come from the museum's research activities, and from donations by other government and university institutions across Canada, and abroad. Another $1 million will support the digitization and high-resolution imaging of the museum's collections of about 350,000 Arctic specimens. These include some of the best examples in the world of plants, animals, fossils and minerals from this region. The free digital data will ensure this evidence of the Arctic's natural history is available globally to researchers, students, historians, policy makers and educators. A further $1 million will create the Beaty Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Species Discovery. Endowed through the Community Foundation of Ottawa, the fellowship will fund a post-doctoral scientist every two years to investigate species at risk. The scientist's role will also include public outreach about species loss, species at risk and the importance of conservation to species preservation. The fellowship is slated to begin in spring 2018. At the announcement, the museum honoured the Beaty donation with a personal gift to the family. Museum entomologist Dr. Bob Anderson, an expert on the group of beetles known as weevils, revealed a species new to science, which he has named Sicoderus beatyi in the family's honour. About the Canadian Museum of Nature The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca. The museum is a founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada and COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), and collaborates with national and international partners to share knowledge about the natural world. About Ross Beaty and the Beaty Family Ross and Trisha Beaty's philanthropic efforts are centred through their Sitka Foundation, which supports organizations that advance land and nature conservation, invests in community environmental projects and groups globally, and provides leadership in environmental stewardship and education. Ross Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur with over 45 years of experience in the international minerals and renewable energy industries. A graduate of the University of British Columbia in geology and law, and Imperial College in geology, Mr Beaty is an internationally recognized leader in both non-renewable and renewable resource development. He has founded and divested a number of companies and remains founder and Chairman of Pan American Silver Corp., one of the world's leading silver producers, and founder and Chairman of Alterra Power Corp., a mid-sized renewable energy company with solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power operations in B.C., Texas, Indiana and Iceland. Mr. Beaty is also a well-known environmental philanthropist, primarily through The Sitka Foundation. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Nature Trust of BC, is a Director of The Pacific Salmon Foundation, a Director of Panthera, and is patron of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. He and his wife Trisha, who is a physician, have a son and four daughters.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

No spot on Earth is a perfect match for Mars, but by training at some of Earth’s extreme habitats, space agencies including NASA and ESA are fine-tuning techniques for a trip to the Red Planet. New Scientist gathered postcards from four of them It’s all about the long haul. The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) tasked six researchers with spending a 366-day stint in a 111-square-metre dome 2500 metres up the slopes of an active volcano, Mauna Loa. They were only allowed leave their habitat to explore the vicinity if they wore space suits. The team didn’t see another soul for an entire year, and all communications were put through a 20-minute delay, to mimic the reality of interplanetary existence. Within the dome, the team experimented to find out which crops might grow best inside a Martian hut under LED lights and with limited water. They ate the results of these hydroponic experiments – radishes, lentils and kale – and also ate fermented foods they made themselves, including yogurt and cheese. The crew celebrated Earth holidays and had a non-denominational winter celebration. Sheyna Gifford (pictured above), the mission’s chief medical officer, wonders if Christmas will make sense on another planet. “When are they going to do that on Mars given that the calendars don’t match?” She suspects Martian settlers will probably invent new holidays such as “Landing Day”, the date of the first human touchdown on the Red Planet. By the time a colonising spaceship arrives there, the crew will already have developed their own unique culture, Gifford reckons. The average temperature on the Martian surface is about -55 °C, so prolonged exposure to bitter cold will be one of the main challenges of living on  the Red Planet. Last year, a crew of 13 overwintered at Concordia station (pictured) in Antarctica – in part to test the psychological impact of cold, darkness and isolation. All wore activity watches which detect when another person wearing a watch comes close, to explore how their interactions changed over time. Crew member Beth Healey of the European Space Agency, a medical doctor, saw that the group divided into sub-groups based on when they were awake during the extended polar darkness, which lasted over 100 days. Some people tended to have chaotic sleep-wake cycles, while others clung to a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule using cycles of artificial light. “You could really only be friends with people who were up at the same time,” says Healey. Enforcing common mealtimes helped the different groups communicate. Healey also examined her colleagues’ video diaries to see if the way they talked about their lives changed throughout the mission, and looked at brain scans taken before and after their stay. Findings from this research are yet to be published, but brainwave recordings of crews on a past mission showed that their brains were surprisingly resilient to the prolonged dark and isolation. Though the winter was brutal, Healey noted in her blog that life at Concordia wasn’t without its charms. “It was strange to see how quickly money can become meaningless,” she wrote, because the base does not use currency. Instead, improvised gifts from crew members became strangely valuable. “A tinfoil penguin and a lampshade made from can ring pulls and stones were among my favourites.” In a remote corner of Utah, the Mars Desert Research Station has other Red Planet analogues beaten for sheer barren glamour. “It’s a half-hour drive from the town of Hanksville, and Hanksville has the motto, ‘Where the hell is Hanksville?’” says Paul Sokoloff at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, who recently did a stint as a crew biologist at the station. The facility is owned and run by the Mars Society, and houses “Utahnauts” in a cylinder-shaped habitat designed to look like something dropped off by a rocket. Whenever they head out through the small airlock, they wear orange jumpsuits and bubble helmets that have a nasty habit of fogging up. Enough rain falls there to let some small shrubs, fungus and soil microbes grow. Sokoloff’s project was to survey this “Martian” flora. Astronauts won’t be picking sagebrush or mushrooms on Mars, but the soil-dwelling bacteria Sokoloff collected could reflect the survival strategies of Martian microbes, if they exist. The methods used to carefully isolate those extreme life forms from the soil are much like what future Mars botanists must resort to. Some microbes change the structure of the rocks and soils that host them: if similar structural shifts turn up on Mars, it could signify life. Mars’s surface gravity is only two-fifths that of Earth’s, and Mars has no breathable air – so what better place to mimic its suffocating floatiness than under the sea on Earth?  This is the premise of the Aquarius Reef Base, a small habitat 19 metres down off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. In July last year, six aquanauts spent 16 days living down there – the 21st instalment of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) project. The crew tested equipment inside the habitat, and carried out simulated spacewalks on the seabed. The lessons learned there could be invaluable for future, low-gravity missions, to Mars and beyond.


News Article | February 14, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

—Live birth: Most mammals do it, some lizards and snakes do it, but archosaurs – a reptilian group that includes crocodiles and birds – don't... or so biologists thought. When a long-necked, marine archosauromorph died some 245 million years ago in what is now China, she was pregnant, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. And now paleontologists are hailing this fossil as evidence that archosaurs might not have always been strict egg-layers. "We commonly think of these aspects of animal biology as static or 'fixed' throughout evolutionary time, and cases like this demonstrate just how labile the evolution of animal form and biology can be," Dr. Nathan Smith, an associate curator at the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study of this new specimen, writes in an email to The Christian Science Monitor. Egg-laying, or oviparity, is thought to be the ancestral reproductive strategy, with live birth, or viviparity, evolving later in some lineages. Viviparity isn't just the placenta-nourished embryonic development of mammals. It has also frequently evolved independently among lizards and snakes in a variety of forms, sometimes with babies hatching from eggs incubated inside their mothers. So viviparity was known in mammals and lepidosaurs (the vertebrate group including lizards and snakes), explains study co-author Michael Benton, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in Britain. But "nobody had ever discovered, in any of the living or fossil forms, any evidence that archosaurs could adopt live birth." When the new specimen was first discovered and the researchers saw the small bones preserved within the larger animal's ribcage, they didn't want to jump to any conclusions. After all, this could have simply been this animal's last meal. As the team examined the fossil, they realized that the two animals were indeed the same species. But it still could have been a case of cannibalism, Dr. Benton says in a phone interview with the Monitor. The researchers are pretty sure that Dinocephalosaurus, as this animal is called, fed on fish because it has a small mouth and a long, thin neck, perfect for gulping down the long, slippery bodies of fish. Swallowing a chunky baby of its own species would have been quite the feat. Not only that, but the little bones didn't display any evidence of acid digestion, as would be expected for such a meal. Furthermore, what Benton says is "quite strong evidence" against cannibalism is the position of the little animal within the bigger one. The big Dinocephalosaurus likely would have had to swallow the baby head first so it went down easily, but the little animal is oriented the wrong way. Finding a little version of the bigger animal in the abdominal region "is about as close as you can get in the fossil record to direct evidence of reproductive mode," Christian Sidor, a paleobiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the research, says in a phone interview with the Monitor. Daniel Blackburn, a biologist at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., whose own research has focused on viviparity in reptiles, is convinced. "Based on the state of development of the embryo and its position in the body of the adult, it almost certainly is a developing fetus," he writes in an email to the Monitor. "Given the absence of any trace of an eggshell, as well as its advanced state of development, the embryo seems unlikely to be laid as an egg. Thus, the adult specimen is almost certainly a pregnant female with a developing fetus." "Viviparity has previously been documented in only a few groups of extinct reptiles, notably ichthyosaurs, the giant mosasauroid lizards, and plesiosaurs," Dr. Blackburn says. "The authors' analysis extends live-bearing habits to an entirely new reptilian group, one in which it had not previously been suspected." That may not be entirely true, says Xiao-chun Wu, a palaeobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature who was not involved in the new research. In 2010, Dr. Wu and colleagues reported evidence of viviparity in a choristoderan reptile. But there has been some debate around whether the choristoderans are lepidosauromorphs or archosauromorphs, he explains. And Wu asserts that these reptiles actually belong among the archosaurs. Still, Wu says, this finding is significant because it increases the diversity of reproductive patterns among this group of reptiles. And, Dr. Sidor says, even if choristoderan reptiles are viviparous archosaurs, Dinocephalosaurus is still the oldest example of live birth in an archosauromorph, as the choristoderans lived tens of millions of years later. This pregnant Dinocephalosaurus could help corroborate a dominant idea about what makes a reptile stop laying eggs and start birthing live young: that viviparity is an adaptation necessary for reptiles to move to a fully aquatic lifestyle. "Because eggs of reptiles (and birds) cannot be laid in water, aquatic reptiles have two choices: they either must come to land to lay their eggs (like sea turtles) or they must be viviparous (like ichthyosaurs and certain sea snakes)," Blackburn explains. "Dinocephalosaurus is highly specialized for aquatic life and probably could not come onto the land to lay its eggs." "It's nice to see that we've got a pattern developing," Sidor says. According to that pattern, it fits that Dinocephalosaurus gave birth to live young. "It's nice to see that the fossil record is giving us glimpses of what we expected," he says. And, Sidor adds, "it's nice to see a fossil like this come along that reminds us that evolution has developed this feature many times, and it's not something that is particularly special to [placental and marsupial] mammals." Benton expects this discovery of live birth in archosauromorphs to open up many broad questions about why some groups have evolved to lay eggs and others give birth to live young. This might even lead to questions like why don't humans lay eggs, he says with a laugh.


News Article | February 14, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

—Live birth: Most mammals do it, some lizards and snakes do it, but archosaurs – a reptilian group that includes crocodiles and birds – don't... or so biologists thought. When a long-necked, marine archosauromorph died some 245 million years ago in what is now China, she was pregnant, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. And now paleontologists are hailing this fossil as evidence that archosaurs might not have always been strict egg-layers. "We commonly think of these aspects of animal biology as static or 'fixed' throughout evolutionary time, and cases like this demonstrate just how labile the evolution of animal form and biology can be," Dr. Nathan Smith, an associate curator at the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study of this new specimen, writes in an email to The Christian Science Monitor. Egg-laying, or oviparity, is thought to be the ancestral reproductive strategy, with live birth, or viviparity, evolving later in some lineages. Viviparity isn't just the placenta-nourished embryonic development of mammals. It has also frequently evolved independently among lizards and snakes in a variety of forms, sometimes with babies hatching from eggs incubated inside their mothers. So viviparity was known in mammals and lepidosaurs (the vertebrate group including lizards and snakes), explains study co-author Michael Benton, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in Britain. But "nobody had ever discovered, in any of the living or fossil forms, any evidence that archosaurs could adopt live birth." When the new specimen was first discovered and the researchers saw the small bones preserved within the larger animal's ribcage, they didn't want to jump to any conclusions. After all, this could have simply been this animal's last meal. As the team examined the fossil, they realized that the two animals were indeed the same species. But it still could have been a case of cannibalism, Dr. Benton says in a phone interview with the Monitor. The researchers are pretty sure that Dinocephalosaurus, as this animal is called, fed on fish because it has a small mouth and a long, thin neck, perfect for gulping down the long, slippery bodies of fish. Swallowing a chunky baby of its own species would have been quite the feat. Not only that, but the little bones didn't display any evidence of acid digestion, as would be expected for such a meal. Furthermore, what Benton says is "quite strong evidence" against cannibalism is the position of the little animal within the bigger one. The big Dinocephalosaurus likely would have had to swallow the baby head first so it went down easily, but the little animal is oriented the wrong way. Finding a little version of the bigger animal in the abdominal region "is about as close as you can get in the fossil record to direct evidence of reproductive mode," Christian Sidor, a paleobiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the research, says in a phone interview with the Monitor. Daniel Blackburn, a biologist at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., whose own research has focused on viviparity in reptiles, is convinced. "Based on the state of development of the embryo and its position in the body of the adult, it almost certainly is a developing fetus," he writes in an email to the Monitor. "Given the absence of any trace of an eggshell, as well as its advanced state of development, the embryo seems unlikely to be laid as an egg. Thus, the adult specimen is almost certainly a pregnant female with a developing fetus." "Viviparity has previously been documented in only a few groups of extinct reptiles, notably ichthyosaurs, the giant mosasauroid lizards, and plesiosaurs," Dr. Blackburn says. "The authors' analysis extends live-bearing habits to an entirely new reptilian group, one in which it had not previously been suspected." That may not be entirely true, says Xiao-chun Wu, a palaeobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature who was not involved in the new research. In 2010, Dr. Wu and colleagues reported evidence of viviparity in a choristoderan reptile. But there has been some debate around whether the choristoderans are lepidosauromorphs or archosauromorphs, he explains. And Wu asserts that these reptiles actually belong among the archosaurs. Still, Wu says, this finding is significant because it increases the diversity of reproductive patterns among this group of reptiles. And, Dr. Sidor says, even if choristoderan reptiles are viviparous archosaurs, Dinocephalosaurus is still the oldest example of live birth in an archosauromorph, as the choristoderans lived tens of millions of years later. This pregnant Dinocephalosaurus could help corroborate a dominant idea about what makes a reptile stop laying eggs and start birthing live young: that viviparity is an adaptation necessary for reptiles to move to a fully aquatic lifestyle. "Because eggs of reptiles (and birds) cannot be laid in water, aquatic reptiles have two choices: they either must come to land to lay their eggs (like sea turtles) or they must be viviparous (like ichthyosaurs and certain sea snakes)," Blackburn explains. "Dinocephalosaurus is highly specialized for aquatic life and probably could not come onto the land to lay its eggs." "It's nice to see that we've got a pattern developing," Sidor says. According to that pattern, it fits that Dinocephalosaurus gave birth to live young. "It's nice to see that the fossil record is giving us glimpses of what we expected," he says. And, Sidor adds, "it's nice to see a fossil like this come along that reminds us that evolution has developed this feature many times, and it's not something that is particularly special to [placental and marsupial] mammals." Benton expects this discovery of live birth in archosauromorphs to open up many broad questions about why some groups have evolved to lay eggs and others give birth to live young. This might even lead to questions like why don't humans lay eggs, he says with a laugh.


News Article | February 14, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

—Live birth: Most mammals do it, some lizards and snakes do it, but archosaurs – a reptilian group that includes crocodiles and birds – don't... or so biologists thought. When a long-necked, marine archosauromorph died some 245 million years ago in what is now China, she was pregnant, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. And now paleontologists are hailing this fossil as evidence that archosaurs might not have always been strict egg-layers. "We commonly think of these aspects of animal biology as static or 'fixed' throughout evolutionary time, and cases like this demonstrate just how labile the evolution of animal form and biology can be," Dr. Nathan Smith, an associate curator at the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study of this new specimen, writes in an email to The Christian Science Monitor. Egg-laying, or oviparity, is thought to be the ancestral reproductive strategy, with live birth, or viviparity, evolving later in some lineages. Viviparity isn't just the placenta-nourished embryonic development of mammals. It has also frequently evolved independently among lizards and snakes in a variety of forms, sometimes with babies hatching from eggs incubated inside their mothers. So viviparity was known in mammals and lepidosaurs (the vertebrate group including lizards and snakes), explains study co-author Michael Benton, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in Britain. But "nobody had ever discovered, in any of the living or fossil forms, any evidence that archosaurs could adopt live birth." When the new specimen was first discovered and the researchers saw the small bones preserved within the larger animal's ribcage, they didn't want to jump to any conclusions. After all, this could have simply been this animal's last meal. As the team examined the fossil, they realized that the two animals were indeed the same species. But it still could have been a case of cannibalism, Dr. Benton says in a phone interview with the Monitor. The researchers are pretty sure that Dinocephalosaurus, as this animal is called, fed on fish because it has a small mouth and a long, thin neck, perfect for gulping down the long, slippery bodies of fish. Swallowing a chunky baby of its own species would have been quite the feat. Not only that, but the little bones didn't display any evidence of acid digestion, as would be expected for such a meal. Furthermore, what Benton says is "quite strong evidence" against cannibalism is the position of the little animal within the bigger one. The big Dinocephalosaurus likely would have had to swallow the baby head first so it went down easily, but the little animal is oriented the wrong way. Finding a little version of the bigger animal in the abdominal region "is about as close as you can get in the fossil record to direct evidence of reproductive mode," Christian Sidor, a paleobiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the research, says in a phone interview with the Monitor. Daniel Blackburn, a biologist at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., whose own research has focused on viviparity in reptiles, is convinced. "Based on the state of development of the embryo and its position in the body of the adult, it almost certainly is a developing fetus," he writes in an email to the Monitor. "Given the absence of any trace of an eggshell, as well as its advanced state of development, the embryo seems unlikely to be laid as an egg. Thus, the adult specimen is almost certainly a pregnant female with a developing fetus." "Viviparity has previously been documented in only a few groups of extinct reptiles, notably ichthyosaurs, the giant mosasauroid lizards, and plesiosaurs," Dr. Blackburn says. "The authors' analysis extends live-bearing habits to an entirely new reptilian group, one in which it had not previously been suspected." That may not be entirely true, says Xiao-chun Wu, a palaeobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature who was not involved in the new research. In 2010, Dr. Wu and colleagues reported evidence of viviparity in a choristoderan reptile. But there has been some debate around whether the choristoderans are lepidosauromorphs or archosauromorphs, he explains. And Wu asserts that these reptiles actually belong among the archosaurs. Still, Wu says, this finding is significant because it increases the diversity of reproductive patterns among this group of reptiles. And, Dr. Sidor says, even if choristoderan reptiles are viviparous archosaurs, Dinocephalosaurus is still the oldest example of live birth in an archosauromorph, as the choristoderans lived tens of millions of years later. This pregnant Dinocephalosaurus could help corroborate a dominant idea about what makes a reptile stop laying eggs and start birthing live young: that viviparity is an adaptation necessary for reptiles to move to a fully aquatic lifestyle. "Because eggs of reptiles (and birds) cannot be laid in water, aquatic reptiles have two choices: they either must come to land to lay their eggs (like sea turtles) or they must be viviparous (like ichthyosaurs and certain sea snakes)," Blackburn explains. "Dinocephalosaurus is highly specialized for aquatic life and probably could not come onto the land to lay its eggs." "It's nice to see that we've got a pattern developing," Sidor says. According to that pattern, it fits that Dinocephalosaurus gave birth to live young. "It's nice to see that the fossil record is giving us glimpses of what we expected," he says. And, Sidor adds, "it's nice to see a fossil like this come along that reminds us that evolution has developed this feature many times, and it's not something that is particularly special to [placental and marsupial] mammals." Benton expects this discovery of live birth in archosauromorphs to open up many broad questions about why some groups have evolved to lay eggs and others give birth to live young. This might even lead to questions like why don't humans lay eggs, he says with a laugh.


News Article | February 14, 2017
Site: www.csmonitor.com

—Live birth: Most mammals do it, some lizards and snakes do it, but archosaurs – a reptilian group that includes crocodiles and birds – don't... or so biologists thought. When a long-necked, marine archosauromorph died some 245 million years ago in what is now China, she was pregnant, according to a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. And now paleontologists are hailing this fossil as evidence that archosaurs might not have always been strict egg-layers. "We commonly think of these aspects of animal biology as static or 'fixed' throughout evolutionary time, and cases like this demonstrate just how labile the evolution of animal form and biology can be," Dr. Nathan Smith, an associate curator at the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study of this new specimen, writes in an email to The Christian Science Monitor. Egg-laying, or oviparity, is thought to be the ancestral reproductive strategy, with live birth, or viviparity, evolving later in some lineages. Viviparity isn't just the placenta-nourished embryonic development of mammals. It has also frequently evolved independently among lizards and snakes in a variety of forms, sometimes with babies hatching from eggs incubated inside their mothers. So viviparity was known in mammals and lepidosaurs (the vertebrate group including lizards and snakes), explains study co-author Michael Benton, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in Britain. But "nobody had ever discovered, in any of the living or fossil forms, any evidence that archosaurs could adopt live birth." When the new specimen was first discovered and the researchers saw the small bones preserved within the larger animal's ribcage, they didn't want to jump to any conclusions. After all, this could have simply been this animal's last meal. As the team examined the fossil, they realized that the two animals were indeed the same species. But it still could have been a case of cannibalism, Dr. Benton says in a phone interview with the Monitor. The researchers are pretty sure that Dinocephalosaurus, as this animal is called, fed on fish because it has a small mouth and a long, thin neck, perfect for gulping down the long, slippery bodies of fish. Swallowing a chunky baby of its own species would have been quite the feat. Not only that, but the little bones didn't display any evidence of acid digestion, as would be expected for such a meal. Furthermore, what Benton says is "quite strong evidence" against cannibalism is the position of the little animal within the bigger one. The big Dinocephalosaurus likely would have had to swallow the baby head first so it went down easily, but the little animal is oriented the wrong way. Finding a little version of the bigger animal in the abdominal region "is about as close as you can get in the fossil record to direct evidence of reproductive mode," Christian Sidor, a paleobiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the research, says in a phone interview with the Monitor. Daniel Blackburn, a biologist at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., whose own research has focused on viviparity in reptiles, is convinced. "Based on the state of development of the embryo and its position in the body of the adult, it almost certainly is a developing fetus," he writes in an email to the Monitor. "Given the absence of any trace of an eggshell, as well as its advanced state of development, the embryo seems unlikely to be laid as an egg. Thus, the adult specimen is almost certainly a pregnant female with a developing fetus." "Viviparity has previously been documented in only a few groups of extinct reptiles, notably ichthyosaurs, the giant mosasauroid lizards, and plesiosaurs," Dr. Blackburn says. "The authors' analysis extends live-bearing habits to an entirely new reptilian group, one in which it had not previously been suspected." That may not be entirely true, says Xiao-chun Wu, a palaeobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature who was not involved in the new research. In 2010, Dr. Wu and colleagues reported evidence of viviparity in a choristoderan reptile. But there has been some debate around whether the choristoderans are lepidosauromorphs or archosauromorphs, he explains. And Wu asserts that these reptiles actually belong among the archosaurs. Still, Wu says, this finding is significant because it increases the diversity of reproductive patterns among this group of reptiles. And, Dr. Sidor says, even if choristoderan reptiles are viviparous archosaurs, Dinocephalosaurus is still the oldest example of live birth in an archosauromorph, as the choristoderans lived tens of millions of years later. This pregnant Dinocephalosaurus could help corroborate a dominant idea about what makes a reptile stop laying eggs and start birthing live young: that viviparity is an adaptation necessary for reptiles to move to a fully aquatic lifestyle. "Because eggs of reptiles (and birds) cannot be laid in water, aquatic reptiles have two choices: they either must come to land to lay their eggs (like sea turtles) or they must be viviparous (like ichthyosaurs and certain sea snakes)," Blackburn explains. "Dinocephalosaurus is highly specialized for aquatic life and probably could not come onto the land to lay its eggs." "It's nice to see that we've got a pattern developing," Sidor says. According to that pattern, it fits that Dinocephalosaurus gave birth to live young. "It's nice to see that the fossil record is giving us glimpses of what we expected," he says. And, Sidor adds, "it's nice to see a fossil like this come along that reminds us that evolution has developed this feature many times, and it's not something that is particularly special to [placental and marsupial] mammals." Benton expects this discovery of live birth in archosauromorphs to open up many broad questions about why some groups have evolved to lay eggs and others give birth to live young. This might even lead to questions like why don't humans lay eggs, he says with a laugh.


OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 27, 2017) - Botanists from the Canadian Museum of Nature have established a new baseline for plant species from the Coppermine River region in mainland Nunavut - an area where the treeline reaches its northern limit. The team has recorded 300 vascular plant species from a 1,200 sq. km stretch along the River. The findings, including a comprehensive checklist, have been published in PeerJ, an open-access, online journal. The tally-which includes plants ranging from grasses and sedges, to shrubby willows, to spruce trees-marks a 36% increase over the 190 species previously recorded by naturalists and other explorers along the Coppermine over the past 200 years. The results were determined following analysis of about 1,200 collections of plants acquired during the team's field expedition along the Coppermine in July 2014. "These results show that there is still much to learn about plant diversity in the Arctic, and it also demonstrates what can be achieved when scientists with expertise in plant systematics can get on the ground, and complete a proper survey," explains Dr. Jeff Saarela, museum botanist and lead author of the paper. Saarela and his two colleagues, Paul Sokoloff and Roger Bull, had targeted the Coppermine because it transitions from boreal forest in the south, where the treeline ends, to a tundra habitat leading to the coast. They explored the Coppermine region from three base camps: one near the treeline, another along the river where tundra predominated, and a final site near the coastal community of Kugluktuk, where they surveyed in the new Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park. "We selected the Coppermine partly because we wanted to get a baseline record of what's there now, since distribution of species may change with a warming climate. These changes are likely to be first noticed near the treeline," says Saarela. "The results show a very rich floral diversity, Of the hundreds of species found, seven were new records for mainland Nunavut, and 14 species had never been recorded in the territory. Fifty-six species represented range extensions, including new northern geographical range limits for many of them. Two of the the discoveries new to the territory were the chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and western birch (Betula occidentalis). These boreal species, common below the treeline, were found growing on the tundra along the northern Coppermine. Other boreal range extensions, such as those for twinflower and hairy butterwort, confirmed the team's initial suspicions that the Coppermine River valley, and its transition from trees to tundra, would harbour a biodiversity rarely seen in the low Arctic. Overall, the Coppermine study adds to a growing inventory by Saarela and museum collegues for the distribution of vascular plants across Canada's Arctic. The data is part of an ambitious museum-led project to create an updated online flora, or scientific reference, for the estimated 800 species of vascular plants in the Canadian Arctic and northern Alaska. To achieve this, museum botanists are combing through records in museum collections and published references, and then filling in the gaps with fieldwork from poorly explored areas of the Arctic. Previous field expeditions have led to updated inventories of plant species on Victoria Island, in the Northwest Territories' Tuktut Nogait National Park and the Hornaday River, and along the Soper River in southern Baffin Island. A July 2017 expedition will see Paul Sokoloff and museum lichenologist Dr. Troy McMullin exploring Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic. About the Canadian Museum of Nature: The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

Don't miss CIBC Shinny Hockey Day, North America's first Ice Dragon Boat Festival, and the birthdays of our mascots Noumi and Nouma! The third and final weekend of the 39th Winterlude is already here. Put on your snow pants and your boots or skates to enjoy, one last time, the many activities being offered from February 17 to 20. For the latest information and any changes or cancellations, check our calendar of events, Facebook page or Twitter feed. To bring the 39th Winterlude to a close, no less than three evening shows of the Sub-Zero Concert Series will take place this weekend at Confederation Park. On Friday, visitors will be able to watch the Acadia show, featuring Annie Blanchard, Jean-François Breau, Maxime McGraw and Joannie Benoit. DJ iLon will heat up the crowd at the end of the evening. On Saturday, well-known singer David Usher will take the stage, followed by DJ Daniel "D-Noy" Desnoyers. On Sunday, Alex Nevsky, La Voix Junior winner Charles Kardos and finalist Brenden MacGowan, and Scott Helman will entertain audiences to close out this winter celebration. Here's what visitors can expect during the day before attending the shows: Families can also have fun just metres away from Confederation Park in Marion-Dewar Plaza, near Ottawa City Hall. There they'll find the Gloucester Skating Club during the OLG skating shows, along with DJ Rodrigo in the OLG Bubble; the highly anticipated Ottawa Senators alumni hockey game; and interactive hockey games. Many of the activities offered during the previous weekends will be presented once again to give visitors even more choices, including the outstanding percussion group Baratanga! On Sunday, February 19, at 12:30, everyone is invited to celebrate the birthdays of Noumi and Nouma, the Ice Hog family twins, in the Snowflake Kingdom! Children will also be delighted by the tale of "The Origins of the Snowman," which will be told on an outdoor stage throughout the weekend. Once again, people of all ages will be able to take part in a wide range of activities: On Saturday, Winterlude will host North America's first Ice Dragon Boat Festival! If you'll be in Canada's Capital Region, this is an event you won't want to miss. With nearly 150 simultaneous hockey games taking place on the Rideau Canal Skateway, CIBC Shinny Hockey Day offers even more excitement. Activities featured during previous weekends will also continue. Here's what visitors can expect: The Nokia Rest Area (at Concord Street) and the CIBC Rest Area (at Fifth Avenue) will once again provide the perfect spot to meet or take a break and be entertained by jugglers, acrobats and other entertainers. Winterlude Partners: More programming than Ever! This year, nearly 50 partners have come together to make Winterlude richer and more entertaining than ever. Here are some activities that will take place at various locations in Ottawa and Gatineau from February 17 to 20: Canadian Heritage is proud to present Winterlude with the support of the following official sponsors and site partners: CIBC, OLG - Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, Metro Ontario, Ville de Gatineau, City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission, Enbridge, Nokia, Giant Tiger, Fairmont Château Laurier, The Westin Ottawa, Lord Elgin, Parks Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Students on Ice Foundation, Music Yukon, Bytown Museum, Delegation of the European Union to Canada, Ottawa Art Gallery, TakingITGlobal, Historica Canada, OC Transpo and many others, including the region's tourism sector. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Harington C.R.,Canadian Museum of Nature
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2011

Unglaciated parts of the Yukon constitute one of the most important areas in North America for yielding Pleistocene vertebrate fossils. Nearly 30 vertebrate faunal localities are reviewed spanning a period of about 1.6 Ma (million years ago) to the close of the Pleistocene some 10 000 BP (radiocarbon years before present, taken as 1950). The vertebrate fossils represent at least 8 species of fishes, 1 amphibian, 41 species of birds and 83 species of mammals. Dominant among the large mammals are: steppe bison (Bison priscus), horse (Equus sp.), woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) - signature species of the Mammoth Steppe fauna (Fig. 1), which was widespread from the British Isles, through northern Europe, and Siberia to Alaska, Yukon and adjacent Northwest Territories. The Yukon faunas extend from Herschel Island in the north to Revenue Creek in the south and from the Alaskan border in the west to Ketza River in the east. The Yukon holds evidence of the earliest-known people in North America. Artifacts made from bison, mammoth and caribou bones from Bluefish Caves, Old Crow Basin and Dawson City areas show that people had a substantial knowledge of making and using bone tools at least by 25 000 BP, and possibly as early as 40 000 BP. A suggested chronological sequence of Yukon Pleistocene vertebrates (Table 1) facilitates comparison of selected faunas and indicates the known duration of various taxa. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 16, 2017) - Media are invited to a special announcement revealing details of the Canadian Museum of Nature's largest-ever philanthropic gift. The multimillion dollar investment by the donors will support the museum's biodiversity research and its efforts to preserve, document and understand the many species that populate Canada and other parts of the world. WHAT: Announcement of major philanthropic gift to the Canadian Museum of Nature. Meet the donors and learn about new research opportunities that the funds will support. See displays of the museum's collections linked to species discovery and species at risk. WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Remarks, including overview of initiatives supported by the gift, followed by opportunities for interviews and photos. WHO: Meg Beckel, President and CEO, Canadian Museum of Nature WHERE: Rotunda, 1st floor, Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St, Ottawa (at Metcalfe) The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca. The museum's areas of scientific leadership, based at its Natural Heritage Campus in Gatineau, Quebec, include species discovery, and Arctic knowledge and exploration.

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