Ancient Arctic camel a curious conundrum

Published March 05, 2013

Associated Press

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    The High Arctic camel on Ellesmere Island during the Pliocene warm period, about 3.5 million years ago. The camels lived in a boreal-type forest that included larch trees; the depiction is based on records of plant fossils found at nearby fossil deposits. (Julius Csotonyi)

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    The fossil bones of the High Arctic Camel laid out in Dr. Rybczynski’s lab at the Canadian Museum of Nature. The fossil evidence consists of about 30 bone fragments, which together form part of a limb bone of a Pliocene camel. (Martin Lipman, Canadian Museum of Nature)

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    View of Camp 2 at the Fyles Leaf Bed Site on Ellesmere Island, near Strathcona Fiord. Across the valley lay exposed tilted Devonian-era beds, partially obscured by low-lying cloud. (Martin Lipman, Canadian Museum of Nature)

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    A fragment of the camel fossil lying in situ on the Fyles Leaf Bed site. The fossil looks very similar to wood. The fossil evidence consists of about 30 bone fragments, which together form part of a limb bone of a Pliocene camel.Found on Ellesmere Island, this is the northernmost discovery of camels in the Arctic, about 1,200 km further north than the Yukon camel.The fossil record from this area shows the camel lived about 3.5 million years ago, when the region supported a boreal-type forest.Ellesmere Island..”Fyles Leaf Bed site” refers to an exposure located about 9 km Southwest of the Beaver Pond site near Strathcona Fiord. The section was visited previously by John Fyles (Geological Survey of Canada), and briefly in 1992 by Fyles and Richard Harington. In 1992 they prospected for about 2 hours. The first detailed stratigraphic work on the site was by Adam Csank (supervised by Jim Basinger) as part of his M.Sc. thesis (2006). At the time Adam measured 40 m of section, but in 2008 John Gosse determined that the Tertiary section was 90 m in thickness. (Martin Lipman, Canadian Museum of Nature)

OTTAWA –  Ancient, mummified camel bones dug from the tundra confirm that the animals now synonymous with the arid sands of Arabia actually developed in subfreezing forests in what is now Canada’s High Arctic, a scientist said Tuesday.

About 3.5 million years ago, Strathcona Fiord on Ellesmere Island’s west-central coast would have looked more like a northern forest than an Arctic landscape, said paleobotanist Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

“Larch-dominated, lots of wetlands, peat,” said Rybczynski, lead author of a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Nearby fossil sites have yielded evidence of ancient bears, horses, deer, badgers and frogs. The average yearly temperature would have been about 32 Fahrenheit.

“If you were standing in it and watching the camel, it would have the feel of a boreal-type forest.”

The Arctic camel was 30 percent larger than modern camels, she said. Her best guess is it was one-humped.

Although native camels are now only found in Africa and Asia, scientists have long believed the species actually developed in North America and later died out. Camel remains have been previously found in the Yukon.

What makes Rybczynski’s find special is not only how far north it was found, but its state of preservation.

The 30 fragments found in the sand and pebbles of the tundra were mummified, not fossilized. So despite their age, the pieces preserved tiny fragments of collagen within them, a common type of protein found in bones.

Analyzing that protein not only proved the fragments were from camels, but from a type of camel that is much more closely related to the modern version than the Yukon camel. Out of the dozens of camel species that once roamed North America, the type Rybczynski found was one of the most likely to have crossed the Bering land bridge and colonized the deserts.

“This is the one that’s tied to the ancestry of modern camels,” she said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/03/05/ancient-arctic-camel-curious-conundrum/?intcmp=features#ixzz2MjaWaWBh

14-foot shark kills man in rare attack off New Zealand beach

Published February 27, 2013

Associated Press

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    Muriwai Beach near Auckland, New Zealand, is seen from the air Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, following a fatal shark attack. Police said a man was found dead in the water Wednesday afternoon after being “bitten by a large shark.” Police and surf lifesavers recovered the man’s body. The police statement said Muriwai Beach near the city of Auckland has been closed. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Chris Gorman) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT (The Associated Press)

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    In this aerial photo, emergency vehicles are parked at Muriwai Beach near Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, following a fatal shark attack. Police said a man was found dead in the water Wednesday afternoon after being “bitten by a large shark.” Police and surf lifesavers recovered the man’s body. The police statement said Muriwai Beach near the city of Auckland has been closed. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Chris Gorman) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT (The Associated Press)

AUCKLAND, New Zealand –  A shark possibly 14 feet long killed a swimmer near a popular New Zealand beach on Wednesday, then disappeared after police attempting to save the man fired gunshots at the enormous predator.

Muriwai Beach near Auckland was closed after the fatal attack, one of only about a dozen in New Zealand in the past 180 years.

Pio Mose, who was fishing at the beach, told The New Zealand Herald he saw the swimmer struggle against the “huge” shark. He told the man to swim to the rocks, but it was too late.

“All of a sudden there was blood everywhere,” Mose said. “… I was shaking, scared, panicked.”

Police Inspector Shawn Rutene said in a statement that the swimmer, who was in his 40s, was about 200 meters (650 feet) offshore when the shark attacked. He said police went out in inflatable surf-lifesaving boats and shot at the shark, which they estimate was 12 to 14 feet long.

“It rolled over and disappeared,” Rutene said, without saying whether police are certain that they killed the creature.

About 200 people had been enjoying the beach during the Southern Hemisphere summer at the time of the attack. Police said Muriwai and other beaches nearby have been closed until further notice.

Police did not say what species of shark was involved in the attack. Clinton Duffy, a shark expert with the Department of Conservation, said New Zealand is a hotspot for great white sharks, and other potentially lethal species also inhabit the waters.

Attacks are rare. Duffy estimated that only 12 to 14 people have been killed by sharks in New Zealand since record-keeping began in the 1830s.

“There are much lower levels of shark attacks here than in Australia,” he said. “It’s possibly a function of how many people are in the water” in New Zealand’s cooler climate.

He said that during the Southern Hemisphere summer, sharks often come in closer to shore to feed and to give birth, although that doesn’t necessarily equate to a greater risk of attack.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time they ignore people,” he said. “Sometimes, people get bitten.”

Around the world, sharks attacked humans 80 times last year, and seven people were killed, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. The death toll was lower than it was in 2011 but higher than the average of 4.4 from 2001 to 2010.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02/27/large-shark-kills-man-in-rare-attack-off-new-zealand-beach-police-fire-shots-at/?test=latestnews#ixzz2MD0hFlaL