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Alberta

‘Discovery by little Nathan:’ 12-year-old makes fossil find in southern Alberta

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Aspiring paleontologist Nathan Hrushkin speaks with pride about his “killer resume.”

The Grade 7 student from Calgary discovered a rare dinosaur skeleton earlier this year at Horseshoe Canyon in the Badlands region of southeastern Alberta.

It’s a significant find that one expert says fills a gap in the knowledge of dinosaur evolution.

“I really wanted to be a paleontologist before (and) now that I’ve found something already, at only 12 years old … I’d have a pretty killer resume,” Nathan said with a laugh during a phone interview.

He said he was on a hike with his father and a few friends on a sunny, hot day in late June, when he saw a bone protruding from the ground.

“The first thing I said was, ‘Oh my God, Dad. You need to get up here!'”

After emailing photos of the discovery to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alta., Nathan and his dad learned that the bone belonged to a young hadrosaur, also known as a duck-billed dinosaur because its pointed snout is similar to a duck’s.

Hadrosaurs could grow up to 13 metres long and roamed Alberta while triceratopses and tyrannosaurs ruled the Earth, said François Therrien, curator of dinosaur paleoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, who responded to Nathan’s’ email

Therrien said the three- to four-year-old hadrosaur lived about 69 million years ago. It’s a time period experts don’t know much about “in terms of dinosaurs living here in Canada and even in the western interior of North America,” said Therrien

“We have very little information about what’s going on … that discovery by little Nathan is of great significance. Because it is one more piece to that puzzle.”

Therrien said the find can help archeologists learn more about, not just the evolution of dinosaurs, but also how they responded to their changing climate and environment.

“I’m really excited because that time interval in the Earth’s history is a time of important environmental and climatic changes. There’s periods of rapid cooling, rapid warming, dropping rainfall, more humid conditions.

“My interest is figuring out what’s happening to the animals during that time, especially dinosaurs. How are they faring with those periods of global climatic changes?”

On Thursday, Nathan and his dad were to join Therrien and his team in extracting the final pieces of the approximately three-metre-long hadrosaur, including its partial skull. The pieces are to be placed in protective jackets made of burlap and plaster and sent to the museum’s lab for cleaning and research.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada said that since Nathan’s find, paleontologists have uncovered between 30 and 50 bones in the canyon’s wall.

Therrien said the youngster’s response to the discovery is a textbook example of what the public should do when they come across fossils, bones and other skeletons in the area — contact the museum.

As for Nathan, he said working with Therrien has helped him discover a lot about himself, too.

His love for dinosaurs had made it difficult for him to choose a favourite.

Now, he says, it’s a juvenile hadrosaur.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Cross-country skiers to pay for parking to use groomed trails in Kananaskis, Alta.

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KANANASKIS, Alta. — The Alberta government says skiers will need to pay for parking to have groomed cross-country trails in the popular Kananaskis Country.

Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon says the province has entered into a one-year partnership with Nordiq Alberta to groom winter trails in the park system west of Calgary.

To support their operations, Nordiq Alberta will start charging $10 a day and $50 for the season to park at trailhead lots in several areas by Dec. 1.

Cross-country ski trail grooming was one of several cuts to parks in the provincial budget last March.

NDP critic Marlin Schmidt says the introduction of fees for cross-country skiing in Kananaskis is just the start of the United Conservative government charging Albertans to access parks.

He says the province is prioritizing corporate tax cuts over the protection of Alberta parks.

Some sporting goods stores across the country have already noticed an increasing interest in ski equipment as people search for ways to get outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Former MP Rob Anders accused of not reporting $750K in income for tax purposes

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CALGARY — Tax authorities allege former Conservative MP Rob Anders failed to report more than $750,000 in net income over five years, court documents show. 

Anders faces five charges, including tax evasion. Some of the charges date back to his time as a member of Parliament.  

Anders, 48, was elected as a Reform MP in 1997 and went on to to represent his Calgary riding until 2015.  

He did not appear in person at his first court date Friday, but was represented by a lawyer who indicated he had just received disclosure on the matter.  

Anders has reserved his plea and the case was set over to Nov. 20.  

The government alleges that in 2012, 2013, and 2014 Anders under-reported his income, which led to multiple charges of making false statements on a tax return.   

Prosecutors further allege that between 2012 and 2018, he evaded payment of taxes, and between 2012 and 2015 he claimed refunds or credits he wasn’t entitled to receive.   

An application to obtain a search warrant for Anders’s Calgary home was filed in March 2013 by the Canada Revenue Agency and outlines some of the allegations in the investigation. 

The charges stem from an audit in 2012 and 2013 that found reported net rental losses on properties in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario at the same time as there were “unexplained” deposits in Anders’s bank account.  

“I reviewed the history of the rental income and rental expenses reported by Mr. Anders and noted he had reported a net loss on his rental properties every year for the 2001 to 2015 tax years inclusive,” wrote the case investigator in the court document.  

“I have reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Anders has understated his income.”  

The document estimates the unreported income at $752,694. 

None of the allegations in the 35-page document has been proven in court.

 In 2012, members of Parliament made about $157,000 a year, and by 2014 they were making about $163,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 30, 2020.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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