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Friday Creature Feature: High Arctic Camel
Dr. Natalia Rybczynski is a vertebrate paleontologist with the Canadian Museum of Nature and is well-acquainted with the Canadian High Arctic. She has led numerous expeditions into the area with the museum including three summer expeditions in 2006, 2008 and 2010 when she found 30 fossil fragments of a leg bone approximately three-and-a-half million years old.
"The first time I picked up a piece, I thought that it might be wood. It was only back at the field camp that I was able to ascertain it was not only bone, but also from a fossil mammal larger than anything we had seen so far from the deposits," said Rybczynski in a press release last week announcing the publication of the paper in Nature Communications that describes this giant mammal: a now extinct camel.
Researchers say these fragments found on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut are from the mid-Pliocene Epoch are a significant because they are the most northerly record for early camels. The ancestors of camels are known to have originated in North America about 45 million years ago.
The fragments were scanned with a 3D laser scanner to create a digital file for each piece of bone. This allowed researchers to virtually reassemble and align the leg without having to physically touch the pieces.
Dr. Mike Buckley at the University of Manchester in England confirmed the bones were from a camel with "collagen fingerprinting.” Buckley pioneered the technique which extracts tiny samples of collagen from bones to develop a profile that can be compared to other animals.
The profile from these fossilized bones was compared to those of 37 modern mammal species, and a bonus fossil of camel found in the Yukon, also in the Canadian Museum of Nature's collection.
The profile of the High Arctic Camel most closely matched modern camels, specifically dromedaries or a camels with only one hump and the Yukon giant camel.
The High Arctic Camel or Ellesmere Camel was comparable in body size to other giant camels like the Asian Paracamelus gigas and the Yukon giant camel- so about ten feet tall at the hump and up to 2,000 pounds: an estimated 29% larger than modern camels.
Paleontologists say the Ellesmere Camel probably had a thick winter coat, wide-flat feet for walking on snowy ground, and big eyes to help it forage for twigs and other woody material for meals.
“This is an important discovery because it provides the first evidence of camels living in the High Arctic region," said Rybczynski, "It extends the previous range of camels in North America northward by about 1,200 km, and suggests that the lineage that gave rise to modern camels may been originally adapted to living in an Arctic forest environment."
1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.
1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.
2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.