Rare teeth from ancient mega-shark found on Australia beach

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AFP)

 

Rare teeth from ancient mega-shark found on Australia beach

August 9, 2018
Fossil enthusiast Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country's famous Great
Fossil enthusiast Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country’s famous Great Ocean Road, when he spotted a giant shark tooth

A rare set of teeth from a giant prehistoric mega-shark twice the size of the great white have been found on an Australian beach by a keen-eyed amateur enthusiast, scientists said Thursday.

Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country’s famous Great Ocean Road some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Melbourne, when he made the find.

“I was walking along the beach looking for fossils, turned and saw this shining glint in a boulder and saw a quarter of the tooth exposed,” he said.

“I was immediately excited, it was just perfect and I knew it was an important find that needed to be shared with people.”

He told Museums Victoria, and Erich Fitzgerald, senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology, confirmed the seven centimetre-long (2.7 inch)  were from an extinct species of predator known as the great jagged narrow-toothed shark (Carcharocles angustidens).

The shark, which stalked Australia’s oceans around 25 million years ago, feasting on small whales and penguins, could grow more than nine metres long, almost twice the length of today’s great white shark.

“These teeth are of international significance, as they represent one of just three associated groupings of Carcharocles angustidens teeth in the world, and the very first set to ever be discovered in Australia,” Fitzgerald said.

He explained that almost all fossils of sharks worldwide were just single teeth, and it was extremely rare to find multiple associated teeth from the same shark.

This is because sharks, who have the ability to regrow teeth, lose up to a tooth a day and cartilage, the material a shark skeleton is made of, does not readily fossilise.

Fitzgerald suspected they came from one individual shark and there might be more entombed in the rock.

So he led a team of palaeontologists, volunteers, and Mullaly on two expeditions earlier this year to excavate the site, collecting more than 40 teeth in total.

Most came from the mega-shark, but several smaller teeth were also found from the sixgill shark (Hexanchus), which still exists today.

Museums Victoria palaeontologist Tim Ziegler said the sixgill teeth were from several different individuals and would have become dislodged as they scavenged on the carcass of the Carcharocles angustidens after it died.

“The stench of blood and decaying flesh would have drawn scavengers from far around,” he said.

“Sixgill sharks still exist off the Victorian coast today, where they live off the remains of whales and other animals. This find suggests they have performed that lifestyle here for tens of millions of years.”

 Explore further: The end-Cretaceous extinction unleashed modern shark diversity

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-rare-teeth-ancient-mega-shark-australia.html#jCp

Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear? Experts say maybe — but blame climate change

by Kalhan Rosenblatt / 
Image: TOPSHOT-NORWAY-ARCTIC-ANIMALS-POLAR-BEAR

A dead polar bear lies on the beach in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago on July 28, 2018. Norwegian authorities said the polar bear was shot after it attacked and injured a polar guard who was protecting a group of tourists from a cruise ship.Gustav Busch Arntsen / Scanpix via AFP – Getty Images

A German cruise line has received a wave of backlash after its crew members shot and killed a polar bear that had attacked a guard whose job it was to spot and prevent interactions with the animal.

The cruise, a Hapag-Lloyd ship called the MS Bremen, was traveling near the northernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, between mainland Norway and the North Pole, had intended to show the bears off to a group of tourists — and it appears guards on the vessel attempted to scare the bear off before resorting to lethal force, officials said.

Police spokesman Ole Jakob Malmo told the Associated Press that two members of the Bremen’s 12-man crew that set out ahead of tourists on Saturday first tried to ward off the bear “by shouting and making loud noises as well as firing a signal pistol, but to no effect.”

In a statement, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises had said the attack happened when a four-person bear guard team, went on land ahead of the tour.

“One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person,” the statement said. The guard who was injured is in stable condition, according to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises spokesman Moritz Krause.

Experts warn that, as climate change continues to shrink the polar bear’s habitat, the animals are finding themselves face-to-face with humans more often.

“With climate change there’s a lot less sea ice and bears have to spend a lot more time on land. There is definitely more chance of interaction between people and bears,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, senior biologist and senior species expert for the World Wildlife Fund.

“And this is not just for tourism. This is for communities, this is for industry, anybody operating and living in the Arctic has this chance of higher encounters so we have to be prepared in a preventive and proactive manner to prevent conflict with polar bears,” she noted.

Experts told NBC News that in most cases guards have and are able to use a host of methods to deescalate bear encounters before resorting to killing the animal.

“Deterrent methods are extremely successful,” said Brian Horner, the founder and director of LTR Training Solutions in Anchorage, Alaska, which includes bear-guard instruction.

Horner said there are several steps guards can take before killing the animal. A guard who sees a bear can first try to shoot a projectile firework that will cause a bang and scare the animal off, although this requires a precise shot in order to scare the bear backwards rather than forward. Guards also must take care not to start a fire with the flare, Horner said.

Guards can also use a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with blank rounds.

“All it does is make the shotgun make a really big bang. We like those, but our clients don’t like them because it’s 161 decibels, and if you’re not ready, you’re going to have an ear ache,” Horner said.

The next line of defense is rubber bullets before a final non-lethal option: bean bag projectiles. But they can be risky.

“When you’re using bean bags, you’re so close that if it decides it doesn’t like the bean bag, it’s going to run toward you,” Horner said of polar bears.

Klenzendorf said that there are specific rules of engagement that cruise lines are supposed to follow in the region where the killing happened over the weekend, and that polar bear guards are required to limit the chance of interaction between humans and bears. But even to the trained eye, in the Arctic, it’s not an easy task.

“It’s very hard sometimes in the arctic environment to actually see them,” Klenzendorf said of polar bears.

Horner agreed that it can be a challenge for bear guards to spot the animals.

“Polar bears are smart. They’re really smart … and they have to hunt a lot. Polar bears go from curious to interested quickly,” Horner said, adding that “polar bears are sneaky” and likely crept up on the guards.

Fortunately, Klenzendorf said, polar bear guards don’t often end up having fatal interactions with the animals.

“Given that it’s only been the second bear in 20 years of the cruising industry in Svalbard that has been killed, it shows there must be high standards that are being followed for interactions,” she said.

Baby Snake That Lived Among Dinosaurs Found Preserved in Amber

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GIZMODO)

 

Baby Snake That Lived Among Dinosaurs Found Preserved in Amber

The baby snake encased in amber.
Image: Yi Liu

Scientists working in Myanmar have uncovered a nearly 100-million-year-old baby snake encased in amber. Dating back to the Late Cretaceous, it’s the oldest known baby snake in the fossil record, and the first snake known to have lived in a forested environment.

Over 2,900 species of snake exist in the world, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica. These legless reptiles first emerged during the Cretaceous period, and they wasted little time, slithering to virtually every part of the planet by around 100 million years ago. The discovery of a baby snake fossilized in amber shows that early snakes had spread beyond swamps and sea shores, finding their way into forested environments. What’s more, these ancient snakes bore a startling resemblance to those living today—a classic case of evolution not having to fix something that ain’t broke. These findings were published today in Science Advances.

Artist’s conception of Xiaophis myanmarensis.
Image: Yi Liu

This remarkable fossil, along with a second fossilized snake specimen, were discovered at the Angbamo site in Myanmar’s Kachin Province. The second fossilized snake, also preserved in amber, only consisted of bits of scales and skin, but these remnants were clearly snake-like in appearance. Together, the fossils are offering fresh insights into the evolution of snakes and their global reach by the time of the Late Cretaceous.

Using uranium-lead dating, a research team led by Lida Xing from the China University of Geosciences and Michael Caldwell from the University of Alberta dated the fossils to about 99 million years old. A technique called synchrotron x-ray micro–computed tomographyallowed the researchers to get a close look at the tiny specimens inside the amber without having to break them apart.

The second fossil, dubbed DIP-V-15104, contains the discarded skin of a larger individual, featuring both dark and light patterns. This wasn’t enough for the researchers to identify the species.

Detailed x-ray view of the baby snake.
Image: Ming BAI, Chinese Academy of Sciences CAS

The baby snake, which was just a hatchling when it died, measured 47.55 mm (1.8 inches) in length, but it’s missing its head (for reasons unknown). The researchers were able to document nearly 100 vertebrae, along with bits of rib and other anatomy. It’s similar to other Cretaceous snakes, yet unique enough to warrant the designation of a new species, Xiaophis myanmarensis, where “Xiao” is the Chinese word for “dawn,” “ophis” meaning “snake” in Greek, and “myanmarensis” for Myanmar. Snakes have been found preserved in amber before, but this is the first time paleontologists have discovered a baby snake fossilized in this way.

Xiaophis myanmarensis is comparable in size and shape to some baby snakes observed today, like the Asian pipe snake. This fossil provides the earliest direct evidence showing that the growth patterns of snakes have remained unchanged for the past 100 million years. These two snakes are also the first Mesozoic snakes known to have lived in a forest environment, “indicating greater ecological diversity among early snakes than previously thought,” write the researchers in the study. Both fossils were found next to remnants of insects and fragments of plant materials associated with forest floors.

It’s not clear how this hatchling got stuck in a drop of tree sap, or how it lost its head, but its misfortune has turned into our scientific gain.

Alligator fights python on Florida golf course

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

 

Alligator fights python on Florida golf course

An alligator and a Burmese python were locked in a cold-blooded battle to the death as a crowd watched in shock at a golf course in Naples, Fla., last week.

Richard Nadler spotted the gator entwined with the large snake just outside the 10th hole at The Golf Club at Fiddler’s Creek. Both creatures were perfectly still, but it appeared the gator had the head of the snake in its mouth.

“The alligator seems to have the upper hand,” Nadler commented after sharing pictures of the hair-raising scene on Facebook.

Carolyn Maxim, who also came across the sight, agreed with Nadler’s prediction.

“It’s like a zoo here!!!!” Maxim posted on Facebook. “Looks like he got one of those big pythons.”

Burmese python, which can grow up to 26 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds, uses its crushing grip to squeeze large mammals, birds and reptiles to death. In Florida, the average size of a Burmese python is 8 to 10 feet, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

In comparison, female alligators in Florida typically measure below 10 feet in length, but males can grow much larger, the FWC reports. Gators are opportunistic feeders, hunting for prey that are easily accessible.

Wildlife officials said they can’t draw a conclusion from photos alone – but if they had to pick a side, they’d be “team alligator.”

“Which species is ultimately the prey or predator will vary from (sic) situation depending on a variety of factors including the overall size of each animal,” Brian Norris, public information officer with the FWC, told Fox News. “However we are encouraged by the prospect of a native Florida alligator consuming an invasive Burmese python.”

Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and pose a significant risk to native wildlife and the ecosystem, Norris explained.

“But both of these animals are large predators and the FWC recommends keeping a safe distance from either species,” Norris advised.

Bison gores California woman at Yellowstone

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

 

Bison gores California woman at Yellowstone National Park, officials say

A California woman was gored by a bison in Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, park officials said.

Kim Hancock, 59, of Santa Rosa, was in a crowd of people walking along a boardwalk at Fountain Paint Pot in the Lower Geyser Basin when the attack occurred, according to a statement from Yellowstone.

People in the crowd got increasingly close to the animal, according to park officials, saying “at one point, people were closer than 15 feet from the bison.” The statement noted that people should keep a distance of roughly 75 feet at least from certain animals including bison and elk, and stay even further away from bears and wolves.

‘GIGANTIC’ MOOSE CHASES UTAH GOLFERS IN VIRAL VIDEO

“When it crossed the boardwalk, the bison became agitated and charged the crowd, goring Hancock,” park officials said, adding that the animal left the vicinity right after.

Hancock was wounded in her hip and brought to a Montana hospital “in good condition,” officials said. An investigation is underway.

The incident comes on the heels of two elk attacks earlier this month, Yellowstone officials previously said. Two women were attacked by elk in separate incidents, one on Sunday and another on Tuesday, near the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, according to officials who also said it wasn’t clear whether the same animal was involved in both encounters.

WYOMING APPROVES FIRST YELLOWSTONE-AREA GRIZZLY BEAR HUNT IN 44 YEARS, BACKLASH ERUPTS

Wednesday’s bison attack is the second time a park visitor has been wounded by the breed this year, officials said, noting that “in a little over a month, four people have been injured by wildlife in Yellowstone.”

In early May, a bison rammed and slightly injured a woman in Yellowstone, officials said at the time.

Fox News’ Shira Bush and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Severed rattlesnake head bites Texas man, nearly kills him

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

 

Severed rattlesnake head bites Texas man, nearly kills him

A Texas man is recovering after he claims the head of a rattlesnake bit him — moments after he had just cut it off.

Jennifer Sutcliffe’s husband was reportedly bitten by the beheaded snake on May 27 at his home near Lake Corpus Christi.

Sutcliffe told KIII-TV the two were doing yard work when she came across the four-foot rattlesnake. She said her husband used a shovel to behead the snake, but when he went to dispose of it, it bit him.

The snake, Sutcliffe said, “released all its venom into him at that point” because it no longer had a body, and her husband reportedly began immediately experiencing seizures and internal bleeding, and lost his vision.

The man was transported via helicopter to a hospital, where doctors said there was a chance he wouldn’t make it.

RARE TWO-HEADED SNAKE DISCOVERED IN BACKYARD

“A normal person who is going to get bit is going to get two to four doses of antivenom,” Sutcliffe told the news station. “He had to have 26 doses.”

Her husband is now in stable condition but is suffering from weak kidney functions, Sutcliffe said.

While it’s rare to die after being bitten by a snake, roughly one to two people die each yearin Texas as a result of the venom, according to the state’s Parks & Wildlife Department.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

Great White Sharks Have A Secret ‘Cafe,’ And They Led Scientists Right To It

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

Great White Sharks Have A Secret ‘Cafe,’ And They Led Scientists Right To It

Scientists tagged over 30 great white sharks last fall — more than they had ever done in a single season.

Courtesy Stanford University — Block Lab Hopkins Marine Station

Great white sharks have a “hidden life” that is becoming a lot less hidden thanks to a scientific expedition that has been years in the making.

Scientists used to think the apex predators moved up and down the western coast of North America, snacking in waters with lots of food close to shore. Almost 20 years ago, Stanford marine biologist Barbara Block started putting tags on the sharks that could track their movements.

She and other researchers noticed something surprising — the tags showed that the sharks were moving away from these food-rich waters and heading more than a thousand miles off the coast of Baja California in Mexico.

Satellite images suggested the area was an ocean desert, a place with very little life.

The mystery of what was drawing the sharks to this strange place set new research into motion.

“We wanted to know if there was a hidden oasis that was formed by the currents that we couldn’t see from space,” Block said.

To find out, the scientists tagged over 30 great white sharks last fall — more than they had ever done in a single season. They’ve already gotten to know some of these animals from years of research. They’ve even given them names, such as Eugene, Tilden and Leona.

Then this spring, the research team set off on a state-of-the-art ship called the research vessel Falkor toward the mysterious area, hoping to find the sharks they tagged.

“There’s a lot of expectation when you put technology on an animal and then you take an expensive ship like the Falkor with 40 people to a box in the middle of the ocean and expect that these white sharks are going to be there,” Block said, speaking from the ship.

Sure enough, the animals were indeed swimming to this remote place, which the researchers have nicknamed the “White Shark Cafe.”

“Just as we predicted, the sharks showed up right in the cruise box,” Block added.

Schmidt Ocean Institute YouTube

The tags were programmed to pop off and float to the surface right when the Falkor was there. Each tag that reached the surface gave off a signal — and kicked off what Block called an “open-ocean treasure hunt,” as the team tried to find something the size of a small microphone in an area about the size of Colorado. These sophisticated tags record temperature, pressure, light and time.

“We doubled our current 20-year data set in three weeks,” Block said. The tags have 2,500 days of data at one- to three-second intervals, allowing researchers to see how the white sharks move up and down through the water with unprecedented detail.

In early March, two months before Falkor departed for the same mission, two saildrones were deployed from San Francisco. They have been transmitting data in real time, listening for the acoustic tags that researchers attached to great white sharks and using sonar to detect other creatures deep under the surface.

SOI/Monika Naranjo Gonzalez

The scientists will need time to parse all of this information, including new mysteries such as why male and female sharks move differently through the water. The males move up and down rapidly — sometimes 120 times a day. Females will go up to the shallow water at night, then down much deeper in the day.

“The male white shark and the female white shark are doing completely different things, and that’s not something we’ve seen so much before,” Block said. “We have to spend some time studying these behaviors to try to understand if this is courtship behavior or is this really a feeding or foraging behavior.”

And after the tags popped up, the scientists used a range of techniques to learn about the water nearby. They had a couple of saildrones, which are surface vehicles that can locate plankton and fish. They also gathered DNA from the water to figure out what is moving down there and observed creatures using a remotely operated underwater vehicle and by pulling them up in nets.

“We expected it to be the desert that the textbooks sort of advertised it would be,” said Bruce Robison, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

But this was no desert.

A layer of nutrient-rich plant life exists deeper under the ocean than satellites could detect. Tiny creatures feed on it, and larger creatures feed on them. And up and up. It represents “a complete food chain, a ladder of consumption, that made us believe that there was an adequate food supply out here for big animals like tunas and the sharks,” Robison said.

The scientists found that the “White Shark Cafe,” originally thought to be an ocean desert, actually is home to a diverse food chain.

Schmidt Ocean Institute

Robison was surprised by how diverse the area was, with animals such as fish, squids, crustaceans and jellyfish. They saw totally different patterns of life in sites just a few miles away from one another, an indication of the area’s complexity.

The fact that scientists didn’t even know this area existed until sharks led them there speaks to how much we still don’t know about the ocean. In fact, according to NOAA’s National Ocean Service, humans have explored just 5 percent of it.

“People don’t really get is why it’s like that — it’s because it’s really hard to do,” Block said. She added that there could be more ocean hot spots out there that scientists are not yet aware of.

And Robison said all the information they gathered could help build a case for why the White Shark Cafe should be officially protected by the U.N. cultural agency. UNESCO is considering recognizing and protecting it by making it a World Heritage Site.

Affordability Crisis Prices National Park Service Office Out of San Francisco

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF KQED NEWS)

 

THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

Affordability Crisis Prices National Park Service Office Out of San Francisco

Park rangers meet in front of Yosemite Falls. (David Calvert/Getty Images)

Federal officials plan to relocate an office that helps oversee 60 national parks throughout the western United States from downtown San Francisco to Vancouver, Washington, in a move they say could save millions of dollars.

Staff at the National Park Service Pacific West Regional Office were told this week that the local unit is expected to move out of the Financial District building it has been stationed at since 2011.

Agency leaders say relocating will mean they can stop paying rent and pay their staff less.

“We have struggled with recruitment in San Francisco for years due to the high cost of living,” said Stan Austin, the region’s director, in a staff memo obtained by KQED.

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The Pacific West Regional Office manages parks in eight states and several U.S. territories, spanning close to 13 million acres and visited by more than 66 million people annually.

The region includes popular parks in California, like the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument and Yosemite National Park, as well as the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

About 150 people work in the regional office’s current space at 333 Bush St., where the rent is $2 million a year, according to the park service. The 10-year lease on the space ends in 2021.

The park service plans to move the Pacific West Region staff to a vacant building it owns at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Federal officials believe they will save money, not only by not having to pay rent, but by paying reduced salary and benefits to its workers after the move takes place.

The agency says it will save $1.8 million a year by paying their staff less.

“The NPS considered various factors in making this decision, including the more favorable cost of living, the expected long-term taxpayer savings from using an NPS-owned building rather than leasing, and the preservation benefits of adapting a historic building for modern use,” said Park Service spokesman Andrew Munoz in an email.

The Interior Department approved the relocation plan, which is now awaiting approval from Congress.

It is unclear how many current employees will make the move to Washington state.

“We recognize that many of you are thinking about what this move means personally, as well as what this means in terms of the service we provide and the relationships we have,” Austin wrote in his memo.

Mystery Wolf-like Creature Shot and Killed In Montana Puzzles Experts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND NEWSWEEK)

 

U.S.

Mystery Wolf-like Creature Shot and Killed In Montana Puzzles Experts

 Aristos Georgiou,Newsweek 10 hours ago

Svalbard: Truth And History Of The 9 Nordic Islands

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Svalbard

Introduction First discovered by the Norwegians in the 12th century, the islands served as an international whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries. Norway’s sovereignty was recognized in 1920; five years later it officially took over the territory.
History Vikings may have discovered Svalbard as early as the 12th century. Traditional Norse accounts exist of a land known as Svalbarð – literally “cold shores” (but this land might also have been Jan Mayen, or a part of eastern Greenland). The Dutchman Willem Barents made the first indisputable discovery of Svalbard in 1596. The islands served as an international whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the Greenland whale was extirpated from this region. From 1611 to the 1800s whaling took place off the western coast of Spitsbergen, by Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish ships. They also provided the headquarters for many Arctic exploration expeditions.

At the beginning of the 20th century, American, British, Swedish, Russian and Norwegian companies started coal mining. Norway’s sovereignty was recognized by the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 with an addition that there would be limited military use of Svalbard and that the other nations retained the rights to their settlements; five years later Norway officially took over the territory. Some historians claim that Norway was given sovereignty as compensation for its Merchant Fleet losses during World War I, when the Norwegian Merchant fleet played an important role supplying the UK. Only Norwegian and Russian settlements survived World War II.

From the late 1940s to the early 1980s the geology of the Svalbard archipelago was investigated by teams from Cambridge University and other universities (e.g., Oxford University), led by Cambridge geologist W. Brian Harland. Many of the geographical features of the isles are named after the participants in these expeditions, or were given names by them linked to places in Cambridge (see Norwegian Polar Institute).

The name of the largest island in the archipelago, Spitsbergen (Dutch for “Jagged mountains”) was formerly used to refer to the entire archipelago, while the main island was called West Spitsbergen.

Geography Location: Northern Europe, islands between the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, Greenland Sea, and Norwegian Sea, north of Norway
Geographic coordinates: 78 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references: Arctic Region
Area: total: 61,020 sq km
land: 61,020 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Spitsbergen and Bjornoya (Bear Island)
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 3,587 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 4 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm unilaterally claimed by Norway but not recognized by Russia
Climate: arctic, tempered by warm North Atlantic Current; cool summers, cold winters; North Atlantic Current flows along west and north coasts of Spitsbergen, keeping water open and navigable most of the year
Terrain: wild, rugged mountains; much of high land ice covered; west coast clear of ice about one-half of the year; fjords along west and north coasts
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Arctic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Newtontoppen 1,717 m
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, phosphate, wildlife, fish
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (no trees; the only bushes are crowberry and cloudberry) (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: ice floes often block the entrance to Bellsund (a transit point for coal export) on the west coast and occasionally make parts of the northeastern coast inaccessible to maritime traffic
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: northernmost part of the Kingdom of Norway; consists of nine main islands; glaciers and snowfields cover 60% of the total area; Spitsbergen Island is the site of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed repository established by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Norwegian Government
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