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Scientist finds fossil evidence of sabre-toothed cat in southern Alberta – The Tri-City News

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MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — Scientists have found fossil evidence from the last ice age of a sabre-toothed cat in southern Alberta — the northern-most record of the predator.

A study by the Royal Ontario Museum and the University Toronto was published Friday in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

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“We were describing the different cat fossils that were found in the Medicine Hat area in Pleistocene deposits,” said Ashley Reynolds, a graduate student at the Royal Ontario Museum who led the study as part of her PhD at the University of Toronto.

“We found potentially four different species, (including) the Smilodon fatalis, which is the famous sabre-toothed cat.”

Reynolds said the sabre-toothed cat is most commonly represented in popular culture, such as Diego from the children’s “Ice Age” movies and from the end credits of “The Flinstones” television cartoon.

Researchers also documented three other types of cats, including the American lion, a lynx or bobcat and potentially a cave lion. The fossil of the cave lion had previously only been found in fossils in Yukon and Alaska.

Supersized cats went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, which was about 11,000 years ago. They hunted large herbivores — such as camels, horses, giant ground sloths and young mammoths — that were also present at the time.

The sabre-toothed cat fossil is a partial bone of one of the cat’s large forepaws.

“Prior to this being described and its record being confirmed … the previous northern-most record was in Idaho, which is about 1,000 kilometres south of Medicine Hat,” Reynolds said.

Her co-author and supervisor, David Evans, said it’s an unusual find.

“Smilodon is best known from tar pit deposits in California and South America,” he said in a news release. “So, it’s both exciting and surprising to find evidence of this iconic sabre-toothed predator in Canada.”

Reynolds said her interest in comparing the anatomy of big cats led her to specialize in the study of pre-historic ones.

“I was looking through our drawers in collections on another project,” she said. “I found a little bag that had a bone in that was labelled as Smilodon and I thought that doesn’t seem right.

“I went to our collections manager and my supervisor and said, ‘Do you guys know anything about this?'”

After reviewing the bone, which was first collected from the area in the late 1960s and later donated to the museum, it turned out that it was a sabre-toothed cat fossil.

“It was really exciting,” said Reynolds. “This is way cooler than we thought it would be.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2019.

— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton. Follow @cderworiz on Twitter.

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Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs being presented at Colchester Historeum – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TRURO, N.S. —

Large creatures that once lived in the oceans and lakes will be the focus of an upcoming event at the Colchester Historeum.

‘Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs’ is an illustrated presentation by Danielle J. Serrato, curator of the Fundy Geological Museum and an educator in Earth sciences.

“I always had a love for the ocean, although I grew up landlocked in Texas,” she said. “My specialty is marine reptiles.”

Her favourite prehistoric creature is the elasmosaurus, an extremely long-necked being that lived underwater.

During the presentation, Serratos will talk about Mesozoic marine reptiles and their modern counterparts in film and folklore, including the Loch Ness Monster, and the mosasaur in Jurassic World.

“Sometimes changes are made so things will sound better in film,” she said. “In Jurassic Park there’s a lot of talk about velociraptors, but those were only about the height of turkeys. What they created for the film is deinonychus, but that name doesn’t sound as dangerous as velociraptor.”

She thinks people are drawn by the mystery and danger connected with prehistoric creatures.

“A lot of it has to do with the sense of curiosity humans have for world around them,” she said. “There’s a creative component because you have to use your imagination. You don’t have to be 100 per cent accurate because we’ve never seen these things and we never will. It’s probably a good thing we won’t see them because these were apex predators.

“We’re starting to realize how little we know about the soft tissues of these creatures, their colours and textures, whether they had fur, scales or feathers.”

Pictures of old movie posters, reconstructions and fossils will add to the presentation which will take place at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

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Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs being presented at Colchester Historeum – The Vanguard

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TRURO, N.S. —

Large creatures that once lived in the oceans and lakes will be the focus of an upcoming event at the Colchester Historeum.

‘Sea Monsters in the Age of Dinosaurs’ is an illustrated presentation by Danielle J. Serrato, curator of the Fundy Geological Museum and an educator in Earth sciences.

“I always had a love for the ocean, although I grew up landlocked in Texas,” she said. “My specialty is marine reptiles.”

Her favourite prehistoric creature is the elasmosaurus, an extremely long-necked being that lived underwater.

During the presentation, Serratos will talk about Mesozoic marine reptiles and their modern counterparts in film and folklore, including the Loch Ness Monster, and the mosasaur in Jurassic World.

“Sometimes changes are made so things will sound better in film,” she said. “In Jurassic Park there’s a lot of talk about velociraptors, but those were only about the height of turkeys. What they created for the film is deinonychus, but that name doesn’t sound as dangerous as velociraptor.”

She thinks people are drawn by the mystery and danger connected with prehistoric creatures.

“A lot of it has to do with the sense of curiosity humans have for world around them,” she said. “There’s a creative component because you have to use your imagination. You don’t have to be 100 per cent accurate because we’ve never seen these things and we never will. It’s probably a good thing we won’t see them because these were apex predators.

“We’re starting to realize how little we know about the soft tissues of these creatures, their colours and textures, whether they had fur, scales or feathers.”

Pictures of old movie posters, reconstructions and fossils will add to the presentation which will take place at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members.

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A dog's life: New study to investigate aging process in man's best friend – Ottawa Citizen

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Good dogs.


ipet photo / Unsplash

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of researchers is hoping old dogs can teach aging science new tricks. The scientists, with the backing of the U.S National Institute on Aging, have launched an ambitious project in which they want dog owners to enrol canines in a study of aging in man’s best friend, hoping it will help both dogs and humans live longer and better lives.

The “citizen scientists” will answer dozens of questions about their pooches over the lifetime of the animals, such as how much and how often they exercise, what they eat and how much, and their interactions with people or other pets in the household.

“These dogs will be doing what they do normally,” said Daniel Promislow, co-director of the Dog Aging Project.

Dog owners are very well-attuned to changes in their dog’s behaviour, which makes their observations valuable to science. “It’s the power of paying attention,” Promislow said.

As part of the study, a small number of the dogs will provide DNA, blood and urine samples. A select group of middle-aged canines will also be enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a drug that has already been shown to increase the lifespan of mice in the hope of determining whether it will have the same effect on dogs.


A 10-year-old chihuahua participates in the Pawlooza’s dog fashion show in London, Ont., earlier this year. As small dogs, chihuahua would normally have longer live expectancy than larger breeds of dogs such as Great Danes.

Max Martin /

Postmedia

In the long run, the study, which has $22.8 million U.S. in funding from the National Institute on Aging, will help the scientists understand the factors that affect “healthspan” — the proportion of life that is spent in good health.

The project was launched last Thursday with a splashy media conference at the annual scientific meeting of the American Gerontological Society in Austin. While the official goal is to enrol 10,000 canines, the researchers aspire to follow as many as 100,000 dogs.

Within a few hours of announcing the project, 16,000 dog owners had “nominated” their pets online.

The hypothesis in gerontology circles is that, if aging can be delayed, it will also delay chronic diseases such as arthritis and Type 2 diabetes, leading to a longer and healthier life, said Dr. Marie Bernard, a geriatrician and deputy director of the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers have already shown they can increase the lifespans of yeast, fruit flies and mice through a number of measures, including caloric restriction, periodic fasting and administering a combination of metformin, which reduces blood sugar, and the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin.

Jay Olshansky, a respected expert in pushing the boundaries of longevity, has estimated that curing cancer, heart disease or both in humans would only extend life expectancy by between three and eight years. However, slowing aging could extend life expectancy by over 30 years, and it would maximize the portion of life free of chronic disease and disability.

“Those years would be spent in fairly good health,”’ said Matt Kaeberlein, co-director of the Dog Aging Project.

“It sounds like science fiction, but it’s science fact.”


A woman walks her dog on Bank Street.

Tony Caldwell /

Postmedia

Nature has figured out how to modify the rates of aging in different species, Kaeberlein said. The naked mole rat, a burrowing rodent native to East Africa, can live to be more than 30 years old, for example, while most mice and rats live only a few years.

The Dog Aging Project’s goal is to understand the genetic and environmental factors behind dog aging. Dogs age about seven times faster than humans, so data on thousands of dogs over their lifespan would yield important information about what correlates with a long and healthy life for a dog over an accelerated time frame.

In general, larger animals live longer than smaller animals, but the reverse is true in dogs. A chihuahua has a longer life expectancy than a Great Dane, for example, said Dr. Kate Creevy, a professor of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University and a member of the research team. Mixed-breed dogs also live, on average, about a year longer than purebred counterparts.


A black Great Dane.

jsclark89 /

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The researchers will also be searching for dogs who have led exceptionally long lives: the canine equivalent of human centenarians.

The project is an open science initiative. Eventually the raw data, with confidential information scrubbed from it, will be available to any researcher who wants to use it to seek out patterns, including members of the public.

The study is open to dogs of all breeds and ages, but so far funding for the research is limited to dogs in the United States, Promislow said.

Rapamycin has been shown to restore heart function and boost immunity in middle-aged mice. It has already been used on a small number of dogs in a research study and their owners have noted no negative side effects and some positive side effects, including that the dogs were more energetic and affectionate.

“People love their dogs. Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the dogs,” Promislow said.

Rapamycin is approved for a limited number of uses in humans, including preventing rejection in organ transplantation. It appears to dampen the inflammation that comes with aging, but it’s still a long way from being approved as an aging delay drug for humans, Kaeberlein said.

This is a longitudinal study, which means it will follow the subjects over their entire lives. While researcher often have problems keeping in touch with their subjects in longitudinal studies, dog owners involved in research have been remarkably co-operative in previous long-term studies, he said.

“This is the most ambitious project on companion dogs and one of the most ambitious projects on aging,” Promislow said. “We’ll have tons of data.”

Joanne Laucius was awarded a 2019 journalism fellowship in aging by the Gerontological Society of America. The program is funded by the Silver Century Foundation, the Retirement Research Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the John A. Hartford Foundation.


A man walks with his dogs.

Sebastian Gollnow /

AP


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