Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Drought Tolerant Beavers of the Santa Ynez

Hey now.... some new stuff going on in Castor land. Yesterday saw the unveiling of the magnum opus on beaver restoration The Beaver Restoration Guidebook: Working With Beaver to Restore Streams, Wetlands, and Floodplains pdf here. I am greatly pleased with the work and it is most useful to have so much pertinent information at hand in one spot that can hopefully guide future beaver restoration/protection work. Great job and kudos to Castro, Pollock, Jordan, Lewallen & Woodruff (although you guys just gots to put southland beaver in your list of beaver links/blogs, come on now!!)

Last Saturday I took a trip to check out the beaver activity at my usual spot on Santa Ynez river of Santa Barbara county. Last summer I was gravely concerned for the ability of these beavers to survive the excruciating drought conditions of this watershed. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw fresh beaver sign in October of last year in an area that just several months prior in late July was bone dry - and bone dry for at least several months. This got me thinking about how these beavers survive these conditions. Do they migrate up or downstream? Relocate to nearby golf ponds? I now think that these beavers in fact hunker down in their bank burrows and just wait out the dry season - an idea I elaborated on in my last post: Do Drought Prone Beavers Aestivate?

The answer to that last question - if you are not among the 41 people who actually read it on this blog - (sheesh people come on this is a very interesting topic, I put that post on my paleo blog and it has got over 400 hits as of today!!) is that they probably don't aestivate in the truest sense of the word (asestivate is basically a summer hibernation) but that they probably do go into a bit of slight summer torpor. This is more or less analogous to the winter adaptation of cold adapted beaver. By staying in their cool bank burrows, largely living off fat with minimal foraging, and generally shutting things down a bit and staying out of sight of predators these drought tolerant beavers have adapted to an ephemeral water regime. And that is my working hypothesis so far.

The evidence I observed on this trip is very much in line with that idea.

Above is the state of the river very close to the first beaver denning area I have identified. Notice how many of the willow have already lost their leaves - it appears the vegetation here has also adapted to such a strong oscillation of seasonal water availability.

These are the two pools that remain in the river immediately adjacent to several bank burrows currently underwater. I think that the beaver depend on these relict pools of water until Cachuma dam release flows occur in late August - October. You might not immediately recognize this as active beaver habitat but check out these pics below.

Can you see that fairly obvious and well marked trail above the water line, and what appears to be a bit of a browse line on the hillside vegetation? I don't think that the beaver eat very much this time of year, just enough to keep up their intestinal biome. But those are beaver sign in my estimation and the proximity to the water allows quick escape from predators into their underwater bank burrow. Later on by late July/August this area will be almost completely dry with the burrow exposed.

And the real clincher was a pretty obvious rear beaver paw track at a nearby grimy little pool.

I then moved on to a site further upriver that maintains pools into the dry season, has loads of bank burrows, and a series of pretty spectacular beaver ponds adjacent.

The beaver ponds had seen better days and there was no fresh sign, probably because foraging here this time of year exposes them to predator risk.

As you can see these series of ponds dry out completely and this seems to be the pattern every summer I visit them. I consider these to be more satellite territories as I have never seem any evidence of bank burrows, lodges, or permanent year round habitation. When the water returns the willows and especially the cattail beds become flush with life and as soon as that happens I see beaver activity here, especially uprooted cattails. It is also worth noting that the dams are all quite leaky and often fall into disrepair.

I often hear about how diligent beaver are about damming up the slightest leak in their dams. But the beaver who frequent these dams appear to be a little blase about keeping super tidy dams. They just want to slow the water down enough for the emergent vegetation to get a good toehold.

Where I think the beavers who frequent these "satellite ponds" live is in an adjacent stretch of the river where again we see the same pattern as the first bank burrow. Fairly steep gradient, sandstone or loose alluvial soils, large tree roots providing anchorage, north facing for coolness, and at least some persistent pools of water providing drinking water well into the dry season.

This picture below captures that area where there at least half a dozen bank burrows including the only recent chew marks on a tree I saw on this visit.

Note the fairly recent chew mark on a willow adjacent to this bank burrow built into a large willow root ball. I got a close up below unfortunately my focus was a little off.

I think that beaver might often resist chopping down the trees that their bank burrows are built into or are adjacent to. They provide stability to their burrow and cover from predators.

Clever beavers.

I saw little in the way of aquatic life, native or non-native. In the past I have found abundant crayfish, bullfrogs, and bullfrog tadpoles in these ponds. But several years of brutal drought have killed them off as well as a big ol' blue heron I see every time I come down this stretch. I have seen a trout fry at least once in the first pool but no fish at all this time. I saw a western pond turtle once, but they, like the beaver are likely sequestered away this time of year in burrows. I saw abundant CA quail, wild turkey in the river bed for the first time, and red tailed hawk as well.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Southern Discomfort: Violent Interactions of Antarctic Toothfish and Colossal Squid

A few months ago I wrote a post called Black, White, and Red All Over: Orcas Penetrate the High Arctic detailing how orcas are making inroads into habitat formerly off limits to them due to global warming. The ice melting earlier and staying clear longer allows killer whales to exploit ice specialist cetaceans such as narwhal and beluga and we may be seeing killer whales replace polar bears as top predators of the high arctic. This ecological shuffling of the deck is something we should expect to see more of in a rapidly changing climate and for this post I want to concentrate on the interesting predator ecology of the southern Antarctic and subantarctic waters with special emphasis on two predators in particular - Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus masoni) & colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni).

Antarctic toothfish. Alexander Remeslo (c) used w/permission
They say a pic is worth a thousand words right? The above ugly maw belongs to an Antarctic toothfish, kissing cousin to the Patagonian toothfish, and both often times labelled as "Chilean Seabass" to entice gourmands to eat such a brutal looking creature at 20$ lb. Nice video on the fishery. What should not go unnoticed is the large sucker scars from colossal squid - are some of those healed scars? A more nuanced relationship between these two southern juggernauts than previously recognized is the focus of a study by Russian researcher Alexander Remeslo and others looking at the sometimes prey, sometimes predator relationship.

Alexander Remeslo (c)
What Alex and his colleagues did, and many marine researchers do who study remote ocean organisms do,  was to hitch a ride on an oceanic trawler, in this case South Korean longliners, fishing for the south poles equivalent to pelagic sharks - Antarctic toothfish. They had the express purpose of looking at depredations by squid on hooked toothfish. But in looking at damage incurred on toothfish by colossal squid and taking a peek inside the belly of the toothfish these researchers were able to document a variety of interactions more complicated than the traditional view of toothfish as the obligate prey of colossal squid.

Colossal squid hook/suckers taken from stomach
of toothfish (c) Alexander Remeslo
Not surprisingly colossal squid, which in recent years has turned out to be a cryptic, sluggish, low metabolic ambush predator of the  s  l  o  w  e  s  t  order does take advantage of toothfish caught on longlines, evinced by the distinctive swivel hook scars from their suckers and chunks taken out of the fish by its beak. In light of the fact that colossal squid are not pursuit predators but ambush predators
(or possibly they lure prey with bioluminescence?) it does make sense that they would feed on  toothfish in a weakened state caught on longline, according to the study depredation rates of about 1%.

But what was not so expected was the rate at which colossal squid was found inside the tummies of the toothfish. In the various Antarctic seas that they collected data from colossal squid was found inside the stomachs of toothfish from .33% to 6.30% (interestingly the Ross sea did not have interactions between toothfish and squid in any form?). This equated to 11 - 20% by bulk weight of the fish's diet. Now that is substantial.

(not so) Colossal squid hooks from inside stomach's of toothfish (c) Remeslo
Now usually the squid remains indicated an animal smaller than the fish in question (colossal squid get up to about 500 kg, toothfish about 80 kg) but there was an important exception that was recorded in this study.

The complete tentacle with club as well as two arms was retrieved from the stomach of a toothfish as pictured on the left. As you can see these remains - which weight in at about 7 kg - hint at consumption of part of a particularly large colossal squid by a toothfish that weighed 70 kg.

Was this a predatory event or scavenged?

Now the authors - as well as the article in deep sea news about this paper - suggest that this parcel of colossal squid was either scavenged or taken off of an ailing individual. Possible predators the authors note that could have set the table for such a morsel ending up in the stomach of the toothfish include; sperm whales - which were witnessed at least once by the authors; and other colossal squid - the authors note that  cannibalism is common in teuthids and most attacks concentrate on the mantle, leaving the tentacles behind which are then easily scavenged.

Another predator that consumes colossal squid is the southern sleeper sharks.  Studies of the shark genus Somniosus suggest a capable - if very cryptic and sluggish - predator of large, active, and agile prey including large fish, cephalopods and marine mammals. Indeed dietary analysis of the southern sleeper shark suggests colossal squid is a mainstay of its diet and it takes larger squid on average than sperm whales. Now it is possible that southern sleeper sharks were simply scavenging these large squid but consider that we have evidence of southern sleeper sharks taking on the largest mammalian carnivoran of all time - the southern elephant seal.

Now whether or not attempted attacks on elephant seals by southern sleeper sharks are ever successful is debatable - but given colossal squids' adaptation as a very slow, drifter I think we should consider sleeper sharks as a predator of even large adult individuals. Regardless, data does not suggest southern sleeper sharks even range  far enough south into the habit of Antarctic toothfish. And, although data is lacking, maybe toss in killer whales and various pinnipeds as potential predators of colossal squid - especially elephant seals, southern fur seals, and leopard seals.

But there is another possibility, one that both the authors of the study and the deep sea news out-right dismiss, that the Antarctic toothfish bit those arms off of a healthy colossal squid itself.

The reason why they assume that these remains do not evince a predation event is that the colossal squid is larger and that the teeth of a toothfish are ill-equipped to wreak such carnage i.e. "too needle like". Let's unpack this a bit.

Colossal Squid (c) Alexander Remeslo
Above is nice hefty colossal squid specimen photo provided to me by Alexander Remeslo. It is probably not too dissimilar in size to the specimen that was partially consumed by the toothfish as discussed above. Again, keep in mind that these were very slow, unathletic predators.

Patagonian Toothfish (c) Alexander Remeslo
And above is a good sized Patagonian toothfish (very similar to the Antarctic species) . In my mind a fish of that size, with that musculature, with those teeth could easily take off a couple of tentacles from a large colossal squid by simply grabbing and shaking/spinning. I have discussed this issue before with respect to marine predators (esp long necked plesiosaurs) just because you do not have large, serrated teeth does not imply that you can not break apart large carcasses. Look at a crocodile death roll, or any number of eel species wrenching apart carcasses (including large cephalopods), or bichir fish in your home aquarium. If you have conical non-serrated teeth, a long muscular torso, and the bite to match - simply get the leverage right and rotational torsion does the rest.

To prime your mind just a bit just watch this insane clip below to see what a group of (smaller) Chinaman Leatherjacket (Nelusetta ayraud) do to a larger octopus that they corner.

When I watch some of the plethora of online videos showing toothfish longlining hauls they all seem to be of the same size class... do we know if toothfish travel in schools? If so that would tip the scale a bit in favor of a fish that has to deal with several potential Antarctic predators and also maybe suggest a way to tackle large prey...

And finally let's keep in mind that colossal squid are not top predators but better characterized as mesopredators and are prey for sperm whales among others. It would make sense for such a slow moving animal to develop defensive strategies such as jettisoning off one or more tentacles when bit by a predator, like this squid species does. Anecdotally I see this a lot when looking at interactions between large cephalopods and predators - remember some of the first video evidence of Architeuthis showed individuals missing one or more tentacles - it could be a very common tactic used by cephalopods to distract predators...

Giant squid missing two largest tentacles
Giant squid washed up in Japan. missing both large tentacles

Should we be so surprised that a fish that is often compared to sharks does a shark like thing? That in the icy depths an exceptionally old, experienced toothfish had suffered enough from its cephalopod tyrants and took the fight to a colossal squid and decided that hey I am going to take some of your arms off today how do you like me now?

I have not yet mentioned that the name of the paper by Remeslo et al. is titled Alien Vs. Predator: Interactions between the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) and the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) Journal of Natural History (2015). That is of course an awesome title and the allusion to color changing in the predator and cephalopods should be recognized. But in the cold Antarctic depths we best imagine this battle played out in super slow motion unlike the hyper speed assault of the fictionalized version. A gelatinous blob with a ridiculously slow metabolism begat by a much smaller fish that bleeds clear blood with only an incipiently faster pace of life. A slow motion clash of fin, tentacle, tooth and beak.

And an ecological association we are only beginning to get a handle on just as the cast of players in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic oceans might be changing radically due to climate change.

(c) Alexander Remeslo

Special thanks to Alexander Remeslov for his kind correspondence and generous sharing of imagery.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Do Drought Prone Beaver Populations Aestivate?

As some of my readers know I maintain a blog about both paleontology (antediluviansalad.blogspot) and beavers (southlandbeaver.blogspot). This post gives me a chance to actually merge the two blogs a bit!!


Take a second to watch the video I posted above. It is an exquisitely preserved synchotron rendered 3-D preservation of two Triassic animals; a stem amphibian Broomistega; and a stem mammal therapsid Thrinaxodon. The most parsimonious interpretation that the authors of the paper in question (link Fernandez V, Abdala F, Carlson KJ, Cook DC, Rubidge BS, Yates A, et al. (2013) Synchrotron Reveals Early Triassic Odd Couple: Injured Amphibian and Aestivating Therapsid Share Burrow. PLoS ONE 8(6): e64978. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064978) come to is that the two organisms coexisted in a burrow to survive a harrowing drought. Such a tactic is widespread in organisms that must persist through both seasonally cold and/or hot/dry conditions. Metabolism can be slowed a bit and even enter a state of torpor, or more appropriately termed in the dry season aestivation - which is pretty much the equivalent of winter hibernation. Now trying to parcel out where the distinction lies between rest, sleep, torpor, hibernation, aestivation is a hard nut to crack. Truth be told all these phases are probably best understood on a continuum from rest < sleep  < torpor < hibernation/aestivation <  dormancy.

Broomistega (grey) & Thrinaxodon(brown) preserved in burrow credit Fernandez 2013

From the paper:

Now hopefully the connection does not go over your head. As a putative "mammal ancestor" modern mammals share this genetic legacy of "torpor" which is still often used in many modern mammals - even primates - and which may have even allowed mammals to survive the Cretaceous mass extinction while non-avian dinosaurs did not.

And now onto the beaver part.....

Several years ago when I first started to get interested in beaver in California and other arid places one of my chief stumbling blocks was trying to grapple with the idea of putting such a water dependent critter into a habitat where water has a very ephemeral presence on the landscape. This was of course before I got into contact with Rick Lanman, Heidi Perryman and other beaver notaries and discovered that beaver not only can live in such areas but are doing so right now in places such as the Mojave River in San Bernardino county socal (here and here), Santa Margarita River in Orange/San Diego counties (here), and various river systems throughout Arizona/Nevada/Utah/and New Mexico.

And, among many others, the river system I am most familiar with in regards to beaver in arid lands: the Santa Ynez river in Santa Barbara county which I have covered extensively (herehereherehereherehere, and here). Based on my personal observations, communications, and GEOlocate mapping viewings the Santa Ynez beaver population might be in the hundreds or even more despite the fact that the river system is highly augmented by human flow discharges from Cachuma Lake and is prone to all the flooding/droughts/ and water shortages that characterize a river system in coastal central/southern California.

Long story short even in the best of years the river runs mainly dry during several months of the year and during drought times (as we are in now) the river might be mainly dry from May to late August/September (if Cachuma does a late season water release for downstream senior water rights entitled farmers). We are, at a minimum, looking at 4-5 months of dry river.

How do beaver survive in conditions waffling between this,

and this?

Now I have had a lot of pet hypotheses that I have been spinning around to explain this anachronism; Maybe beavers migrate downstream or upstream to areas of permanent discharge from wastewater treatment plants downstream or mandatory steelhead discharges from Cachuma upsteamMaybe beaver are not as territorial here and share these resources in drought timesMaybe they relocate to the several golf ponds on surrounding golf courses. 

But all of these hypotheses have their problems. Beaver are known to be terrritorial. Golf ponds do not line the whole river. And even if they did relocate up/downsteam that is still a trek of several dozens of kilometers for the beaver in the center of river course. And then this trek has to be done with kits in tow because kits stay with their parents for several years. This would be a very hazardous risk due to the abundant predators of the river: there are for sure bobcats, coyotes, and cougar - probably black bear too. I have seen predator track/activity such as this gnarled mule deer spine in the river bed.

likely predator activity, probably coyote. mule deer spine Santa Ynez River
I now think all those ideas are too flawed and what makes most sense to me is this: beaver along the Santa Ynez - and probably most arid condition beaver populations - hunker down in their bank burrows and go into a bit of torpor. They probably don't aestivate to the true definition of the word which is basically a summer version of hibernation - and we know that beaver do not hibernate.

Probably the best summary of known beaver "thermoregulatory" tactics is the one on the USDA page on beaver (Baker & Hill 2003 pdf link):

In a sense arid beaver simply "flip the script" in the parlance of the time and do what beaver do in winter in high latitude/frost prone areas of the range except that they do it in the summer as opposed to the winter. As most beaver in arid areas dig bank burrows this makes for more of cool temperature thermal refuge to inhibit water loss. Note that lodges - made of wood usually - would still swelter in the sun but several feet underground is a much cooler refuge. If beaver can position their burrow next to a small pool of water - either dug into the substrate or provided for by human activities - this provides a pool for defecation and drinking (eww I know both in the same pool). And if the the beaver can stockpile a food source or be close enough to find some forage this will provide the sustenance. But all in all I think beaver strategy is to hunker down, eat very little, drink very little, survive on fat, and most of all just stay out of sight as much as possible to avoid predator attention. A waiting game for the water which I fully think beaver are capable of.

And I have some photographs/videos to embellish my case:

from July 2014

Now this fetid pool was the last bit of water in an area usually brimming with beaver activity. If you look closely you can make out two probable bank burrows. You will also notice several logs/branches on the ground. The outer bark is chewed off and note that the tree above - which more or denotes how high the water would usually be here - has its outer bark chewed off. Again I don't think beaver eat very much in this period - probably only enough to keep their intestinal biome optimized - but live off fat stored in their body and especially their tail.

I believe the depth of this pool is maintained by the beavers themselves to serve as a water reserve during the drought. This area of the river is full of rocks and since this pool occurs on a very rocky/cobbly part of the river these beaver are actively moving the rocks out of this deep part to dam up other parts. It should also not go unnoticed that this deepening of the channel - some claim beaver do the opposite but I disagree here - would serve as a nice cold water refuge for salmonids in years where drought was not so intense. Unfortunately non-native bullfrog are fully established in this stretch of the river and that is all I saw in this pool were goobly-gobbly looking bullfrog tadpoles.

Rock dam near bank burrow and deep pool

Above is a video I shot showing this same area in April of that same year showing this pool in higher water times when I already suspected the usage here. You will note the two leaning trees that you can see in the pic above. I sound a little wheezy because at the time I was suffering a bit of iron deficiency.

And some beaver burrows upriver - remember this is in April of a drought year - so when I went back this area was completely dried up as you can see in the 2nd dry season pic above.

And then there was the documentation on the San Pedro River of Arizona of beaver, bank burrow, and small dug out pool that I covered before here.

Desert Beavers on San Pedro River AZ
And astute beaver readers can probably recall a none too dissimilar situation of a beaver bunkering down on the Guadalupe River of Santa Clara county in drought conditions surviving off of a leaky culvert which I read about on Heidi Perryman's Martinez Beavers blog.

Dry Guadalupe Summer 2014 credit Roger Castillo
Beaver Gnawed Cottonwood on Dry Guadalupe credit Steve Holmes
Water culvert exploiting Guadalupe beaver credit Gred Kerekez (c)
Reed bed w/beaver in cool/hidden spot w/water nearby from culvert

So in conclusion I doubt arid adapted beaver aestivate in the truest sense of the word but by just slowing things down a bit, bunkering down in a cool burrow, and sequestering away a source of water and just enough food beaver can find a way to squeeze through dry spells. Again, as discussed in the paleo paper on stem amphibians/mammals in arid climes this adaptation need not necessitate a strong drop in metabolism in line with true aestivation but it can significantly aide in resource poor/hot environments. And this is not a radical new adaptation for this species - it is simply the inverse of what northern/cold climate beaver do. Instead of buckling down for a couple months in the winter time arid adapted beaver adopt this behavior in the summer.

Dried beaver pond. Santa Ynez River

and nile crocodiles digging into and surviving in caves dug into river banks to survive drought in Africa just because....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Triassic Systems Collapse

Time for nice, happy upbeat post that is going to reassure you that everything is going to be all right for us here on little ol' planet earth - NOT!!! Heed the dire proclamations sallying forth from scientists and,  even religious leaders, who have their ear to the ground concerning imminent systems collapse of both natural and artificial systems on earth. As a man wiser tham me once said: "history does not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes."

The impetus for this post is a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Extreme Ecosystem Instability Suppressed Tropical Dinosaur Dominance Whiteside et. al. 2015. Popular write up here with depressing comments from climate change denier nutters.

The central question at hand and which guided this study is why do low latitude late Triassic formations   lack herbivorous dinosaurs while higher latitude formations document them?

To address this intriguing question the authors took a multi-proxy approach looking at numerous lines of evidence including pollen (palynology), carbon isotopes, sedimentary evidence, CO2 levels, and species composition of the famed Chinle formation of Western North America (including Coelophysis Ghost Ranch quarry).

What they found of is nothing short of a violently oscillating ecosystem that, they suggest, was incapable of supporting large bodied, fast growing, high metabolic dinosaur herbivores (a tenable assumption that they make regarding high metabolism). Instead a paucity of relatively small bodied theropods coexisted with a dominant fauna of pseudosuchian archosauriformes or as I used to hear them more often referred to as - thecodonts. You know your phytosaurs, rynchosaurs, aetosaurs, rauisuchians and other quasi croc-like beasties of lore which the authors assume a deliberately more slow paced metabolism (and therefore better able to endure unstable/extreme environments).

credit Victor Leshyk
A decidedly harsh world with CO2 levels three to four times above modern levels. From the paper:
"One of the major predictions of models of elevated atmospheric CO2 levels is the increased frequency and magnitude of events comprising very high temperatures, an enhanced hydrological cycle, and increased precipitation extremes" and such "climate extremes might be expected to profoundly influence biogeographic patterns".

In a world already likely dominated by world wide mega-monsoon the vicissitudes of low latitude Triassic climatic conditions created a tinder box condition that may have ultimately proven incapable of supporting abundant, tachymetabolic large herbivores. In a generally semiarid climate intense bouts of rain - likely leading to extreme flooding and weathering - may have spurred on abundant plant growth. But this set up a surplus of material that, when the intense heat coupled with crippling drought arrived, created a perfect set up for intense and wide ranging fires which the authors found abundant evidence for in the form of preserved charcoal. To add in my own personal 2 cents if we assume that weather patterns were likely cyclical such environments may have seen years, decades, or even centuries of slightly more humid conditions (which is why there was big trees preserved at the petrified forest) but which were likewise countered by equally long periods of drought conditions. Such conditions, the authors maintain, would have proven too unstable and inconsistent to allow populations of large herbivorous dinosaurs.

Lead author Jessica Whiteside: "Our findings demonstrate that the tropical climate swung wildly with extremes of drought and intense heat," and that the intense wildfires "swept the landscape," which constantly "reshaped the vegetation available".

Now the situation in the Chinle makes a little bit more sense to me with a fauna largely dominated by archosaurs with a smattering of small predatory dinosaurs. What I personally am intrigued by is the dominance of phytosaurs - water loving crocodile mimics - in the drought prone Chinle. But hey, you can still have large river systems in arid continents. And one can imagine that when it poured it really poured on Pangea. And with the continents still amassed in large blocks when the interior of these large land masses got inundated with large monsoonal rains and if we presume large swaths devoid of vegetation or fire decimated then that rain is going to create torrential rivers when they do run.

It does beg the question in my mind - and it is a question I hope to revisit in future posts - what sort of coping mechanisms did phytosaurs and other Triassic archosaurs have to deal with such climatic oscillations. If their water supply dried out could they aestivate for long periods of time? Maybe even years buried in drying mud with only that nostril opening on the top of the skull sticking out to breathe? What about the giant amphibious temnospondyls?

Nile Croc Caves of Katuma River

Now you can take what you want from this study. It would be remiss of me not to mention the obvious parallels in the situation faced by Triassic dinosaurs with the situation faced by an extant bipedal, dominant, high energy demanding hominid living in the tropics in a regime of increased climatic, ecological, and political systems collapse.

* Humble boast time, just broke 300,000 page views. I have a lot more stuff to post on in the nearish future and am pleased with many requesting/asking about if I will cover certain topics. Unfortunately due to this thing called life it will be a little quiet around here in the next month - I will be doing field work on beavers in Monterey county on the Arroyo Seco creek. If you don't know already beaver in California is a topic of intense interest to me which I discuss on my other blog southlandbeaver.blogspot Anyways if I was getting paid to write this blog I would have a lot more time to devote to it and would love to do it full time. But you know the story money is allergic to the topic of paleontology - unless you create a fictionalized monster movie full of cliches then it falls like mana from the sky.

Cheers and don't worry I have more plesiosaur machinations, dinosaur ecology, and Spino stuff planned but don't be surprised if it takes me until August!!

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