From Rus­sia with Sala­man­ders. Speaker Se­ries con­tin­ues Thurs­day.

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Sub­mit­ted

The March 31 ses­sion of the 2016 Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum’s Speaker Se­ries is a pre­sen­ta­tion by Dr. Pavel Skutschas from St. Peters­burg Univer­sity, Rus­sia en­ti­tled “Me­so­zoic Sala­man­ders from Siberia, Kaza­khstan, and Mid­dle Asia.”

Sala­man­ders are a group of am­phib­ians that are eas­ily rec­og­nized by their mod­er­ately elon­gate body and tail, two pairs of limbs, and smooth skin. South­ern Al­berta is home to two kinds of sala­man­ders: the tiger sala­man­der on the plains (in­clud­ing in the Drumheller re­gion) and the long-toed sala­man­der in the foothills and Rocky Moun­tains. Most of the 700 liv­ing species of sala­man­ders oc­cur only in the North­ern Hemi­sphere (e.g., North Amer­ica, Europe, and Asia) and be­long to mod­ern fam­i­lies that orig­i­nated within the last 100 mil­lion years. The preva­lence of liv­ing sala­man­ders in the North­ern Hemi­sphere sug­gests sala­man­ders orig­i­nated and di­ver­si­fied there. By con­trast, frogs (which are closely re­lated to sala­man­ders) are more glob­ally dis­trib­uted and much of their evo­lu­tion­ary his­tory seems to have been cen­tered in the South­ern Hemi­sphere.

Al­though North Amer­i­can con­tains about one-half of the liv­ing species of sala­man­ders and has an ex­ten­sive fos­sil record (in­clud­ing in Al­berta), much of what we know about the ori­gins and early evo­lu­tion of sala­man­ders re­lies on fos­sils from older rocks dat­ing back to the Mid­dle Jurassic to Early Cre­ta­ceous (about 160 to 100 mil­lion years ago) in Europe and Asia. In Asia, an­cient sala­man­der fos­sils are known from Siberia in the north­east and from Mid­dle Asia (Kyr­gyzs­tan, Ta­jik­istan, Turk­menistan and Uzbek­istan) and Kaza­khstan in the south­west. In his talk, Dr. Skutschas will re­view his work on fos­sil sala­man­ders from those re­gions and dis­cuss what those Asian fos­sils tell us about the early evo­lu­tion­ary his­tory of sala­man­ders.

The Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum’s Speaker Se­ries talks are free and open to the pub­lic. The se­ries is held ev­ery Thurs­day un­til April 28, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. in the Mu­seum au­di­to­rium. Past pre­sen­ta­tions are also avail­able on the Mu­seum’s YouTube chan­nel: youtube.com/user/Roy­alTyrrel­lMu­seum. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit tyrrell­mu­seum.com.

The Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum’s Speaker Se­ries talks are free and open to the pub­lic. The se­ries is held ev­ery Thurs­day un­til April 28, 2016 at

11:00 a.m. in the Mu­seum au­di­to­rium.

sub­mit­ted

Dr. Pavel Skutschas from St. Peters­burg Univer­sity, Rus­sia en­ti­tled “Me­so­zoic Sala­man­ders from Siberia, Kaza­khstan, and Mid­dle Asia” at Speaker Se­ries.

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