These prehistoric-looking fish were contemporaries of the dinosaurs, but human alterations in their big-river habitat have brought them near extinction. Juvenile pallid sturgeons need shallow areas with little current to survive. Much of this habitat has been eliminated through channelizing and damming of rivers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Conservation Department, recently released several thousand pallid sturgeon raised at Conservation Department hatcheries into the Missouri River. The fish were released at several sites between Ponca, Neb., and the mouth of the Grand River. Pallid sturgeon can live more than 40 years and grow to 80 pounds. In Missouri, they seldom exceed 10 pounds. Their smaller relatives, shovelnose sturgeon, seldom exceed 30 inches and 5 pounds. Sturgeons’ mouths are on the bottoms of their heads. They act like vacuum cleaners, sucking up insects, fish and other food from the river bottom. For more information, visit the links listed below.
Frogs’ and toads’ ability to transform from tadpoles to adults always has fascinated people. It led to fairy tales about damsels turning frogs into princes with a kiss and association with the pseudoscience of alchemy. Superstition even awards them the power to transform people who touch them by causing warts. Toxins secreted by many frogs’ and toads’ skin adds to their aura of power and mystery. For fascinating and factual information about amphibians, visit the links listed below.
Freddie Scott of LaGrange, Ga., was excited when he shot a banded pintail duck last January near Ruleville, Miss. He was amazed when he read the inscription on the band: “Kankyocho-Tokyo Japan.” He thought it must be a hoax, but the Bird Banding Laboratory at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wildlife research laboratory in Patuxent, Md., confirmed the band’s authenticity. Japanese Bird Banding Society member Ryuhei Honma banded the bird in northwestern Japan on Feb. 16, 2000. The bird was at least a year old when banded, making it nearly 9 when it fell to Scott’s gun more than 6,700 miles from the banding site. Wild pintails have an average life expectancy of about 3 years. For more information about bird banding, visit online.
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