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the newsletter of the

Minnesota Herpetological Society

Contents Speaker: Noah Anderson on the Conservation of North American Herps May Speaker Recap: Fossile History of Crocodilians

August 2012

Volume 32

Number 8

B OA R D OF DI R E C TOR S President Christopher E Smith

C/O Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church Street Southeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55455-0104


Vice President Dāv Kaufman 612.669.4567 Recording Secretary Ellen Heck


Membership Secretary Heather Clayton 612.886.7175 Treasurer Nancy Haig

Stay informed! Join us on our forums!

And, you can still leave us a Voice Mail: 612.326.6516

August 2012

Newsletter Editor Christopher Rueber 952.594.0101 Members at Large Jeff LeClere 651.488.6388

Number 8



Volume 32

Further the education of the membership and the general public in care and captive propagation of reptiles and amphibians; Educate the members and the general public in the ecological role of reptiles and amphibians; Promote the study and conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

The Minnesota Herpetological Society is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Membership is open to all individuals with an interest in amphibians and reptiles. The Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter is published monthly to provide its members with information concerning the society’s activities and a media for exchanging information, opinions and resources. General Meetings are held at Borlaug Hall, Room 335 on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota, on the first Friday of each month (unless there is a holiday conflict). The meeting starts at 7:00pm and lasts about three hours. Please check the MHS Voice mail for changes in schedules or cancellations.

Jacob Mee


Beth Girard 612.616.8431

Ads or Notices must be submitted no later than the night of the General Meeting to be included in the next issue. Longer articles will be printed as time and space allows and should be in elec- tronic file format if possible. See inside back cover for ad rates. Submissions may be sent to:

Peter Tornquist

COMMITTEES Adoption Sarah Richard


Education Jan Larson


The Minnesota Herpetological Society -or- Attn: Newsletter Editor C/O Bell Museum of Natural History 10 Church St SE Minneapolis, MN 55455-0104


Library Nancy Haig 763.434.8684

HENNEPIN REGIONAL POISON CENTER 800-222-1222 Cover Photo Credit: Bonnie Cline - Timber Rattlesnake at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

© Copyright 2012, Minnesota Herpetological Society. Except where noted, contents may be reproduced for non-profit, non-commercial use only. All material must be reproduced without change. Proper credit will be given including the author/photographer and the Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter citing: volume, number and date.

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2012

Volume 32

Number 8

April General Meeting Presentation - Friday, August 3rd - Starting at 7 P.M. University of MN - St. Paul Campus, Borlaug Hall, Room 335 Noah Anderson will be presenting on...

The Conservation of North American Herps And, in case you missed the July general meeting, here is a recap just for you!

Fossil History of Crocodilians The speaker for July was Dr. Christopher Bruchu, an associate professor of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Iowa in the Geoscience department. His topic was “The myth of the living fossil - Diverse approaches toward crocodyliform history”. Crocodiles are widely considered to be “living fossils”. The common belief is that they have retained basically the same form for millions of years, appearing in the fossil record pretty much as they do today. There had been a few offshoots from the line which show some different traits, but the main line remained unchanged. However, Dr. Bruchu challenges this idea and believes that the line has in fact varied over time just as much as any other group. Initially, when people were trying to classify animals, all they had to go on was what the animals looked like now and what their apparent ancestors look like in the fossil record. This method is strictly empirical; that is, a study of visible physical traits. With the advent of DNA collection and analysis, animals and plants can be compared genetically to determine their relationships to each other. Sometimes this supports the empirical classification, but sometimes it does not. Today, the order of crocodylia consists of three families: crocodylidae, alligatoridae (which includes the caiman) and gavialidae, which are the gharials. One differentiating feature between crocodiles and alligators is the teeth – alligators have a complete overbite, whereas crocodiles have teeth that mesh and a notch in the upper jaw. Both evolved from a common ancestor different from the modern forms that appears to

have both a notch and an overbite; alligators lost the notch and the crocodiles the overbite. Gharials are distinguished by a long narrow snout. With the advent of DNA analysis, there were a number of discrepancies between the genetic and empirical phylogenies. However, Dr Bruchu feels that a lot of the confusion stems just from naming conventions rather than the data itself. When this is cleared up, the trees are almost identical. The only thing that still doesn’t fit is the gharials. More data can be added to help resolve the differences, but it must be added correctly. What it gets down to is morphology vs. molecular data. Just because two species look alike does not mean that they are closely or directly related. The fossil record for crocodylia does back more than 80 million years, and the ancestral groups back to the Triassic period over 200 million years ago. There are many fossils for them as they tend to have a heavy, dense skeleton that fossilizes well. However, there are few complete skeletons; as is common with most fossils, bits and pieces of the skeleton have been found. Although there have been crocodile-like creatures around for millennia, there is a lot of variety to be found. Some have incredibly long noses; some like notosuchus had noses that were very short and pig-like. One, mourasuchus, looked like “a surfboard with teeth”. Some had teeth more designed for crushing rather than tearing. Another, purussaurus, had incredibly large nostrils. Dr. Bruchu says that they are actually large enough for a person to stick their head into the skull and jokingly suggested that perhaps this


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society crocodile inhaled its prey. Pristichampsus had serrated teeth, a flattened snout and hoof-like feet. Others took to the oceans and developed flippers and a dolphin-like fluke. So although there have been creatures in the past that very closely resemble today’s species, there are a great many more that clearly belong in the group but have very different characteristics. The assumption in the past has always been that the ones that look like the extant groups were their ancestors and the others were evolutionary side roads. This is the theory that Dr. Bruchu is challenging; he feels that the real ancestors are some of the “oddities” and that reclassifying the groups will reconcile the differences between the DNA and the morphology. The species sampling will make a difference,

August 2012

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Number 8

and the data set used must be appropriate for the questions. The skulls should be examined not just for obvious traits like snout length and width, but more subtle characteristics like the external mandibular fenestrae (the hole in the jaw of an alligator) as well as where and how the muscles attach, which varies or can even be absent. Tracing things like brain size is a bit difficult, as the brain of a crocodylian does not fill the braincase in the skull. Next year there will be a gathering in Washington DC, and hopefully if they can get enough people in a room talking it over for long enough, much may be resolved. After all, Dr. Bruchu was able to show several slides and skull drawings proving that Barney was not a dinosaur or a newt, but a fish (and no, I am not kidding about that!)


Attend a FREE “Intro to Conducting Schoolyard Herp Surveys” and “Digital Photography Bridge to Nature” Workshop on Saturday, August 4th at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge

Contact Beth Girard at 612/616-8431 or for details!

Upcoming Hands-on Event Schedule Contact Jan for Specific Dates Minnesota Renaissance Festival Mid-August to Early-October Put on by Como Cottage Contact Brandi Snyder or Raelene Rueber

Looking to meet other MHS members? Help assist the society achieve it’s goals of educating the public? Or just have a good time showing off your herps? Here’s the perfect opportunity! Here’s the deal- Bring your herp(s) to one of the shows listed above, and talk about them. That’s it! You don’t have to be an expert, you’re not giving speeches. Most of the time you will find that people are more than open to hearing about our misrepresented critters. Sound fun? Great! There are just a few requirements: Bring only healthy animals. Make sure you know the basics about your animal; What they eat, how long they live, adult size, cage needs. There is no size limits as long as the handler can comfortably keep control. We do not let viewers pat them on the head and do not allow them to directly hold the animal. If the animals are very young, display in a cage is recommended. Children may participate as long as they have adult supervision.

Contact: Jan Larson 4


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2012

Volume 32

Number 8

Board Minutes for May 5th, 2012 The meeting was called to order at 6:09pm. The calendar was reviewed for action items. Ellen read the minutes. Motion to accept the minutes: Chris R; 2nd: Peter. Motion passed. Old Business Adoption Amendment: There was a proposal to change the 1.5 clause of the adoption policy to read as follows: 1.5 Venomous 1.5.1 MHS does not accept venomous animals from the general public. 1.5.2 Venomous animals received will not be placed at the general meeting. Motion to accept amendment as stated above: Heather; 2nd: Chris R. Motion passed.

New Business

Hands-on Trunks: Right now there are 3 trunks. Jan has one and one is usually kept by the Bosman’s, who live on the northwest side of the cities. The third should be placed with someone on the north or northeast side of the cities, to make them accessible as needed. Beth volunteered to keep the third trunk. Fostering/Euthanasia: The number of animals coming in and needing fostering is increasing. Ways of dealing with the surplus were discussed, including renting fostering facilities, euthanizing – how, when and who -and allowing the general public to adopt unplaced animals after their 3 months is up. Motion to adjourn: Ellen; 2nd: Jeff. Meeting adjourned 8:02 pm.

Minnesota State Fair Announcement The 2012 Minnesota State Fair will take place between Thursday, August 23rd, and Monday, September 3rd. On each of these twelve days, the Minnesota Herpetological Society provides animals for an exhibit in the DNR building (located at the corner of Carnes Avenue and Nelson Street). Thanks to this display, visitors to the building can

view six species of native snakes and four species of turtles. Jim Gerholdt, a lifetime member of MHS, graciously allows us to use one of his timber rattlesnakes for the centerpiece each year! Longtime member, John Moriarty, provides four species of turtles for the two display tanks. The other snakes are on-loan from the personal collections of other MHS members. To adequately provide care for these animals, twelve MHS members agree to serve as “Daily Investigators”. It is necessary for a member to check on the snakes and turtles each evening when the DNR building closes. At this time, the enclosures can be opened so water levels in each bowl and aquarium can be maintained, as well as the removal of any feces or shed skins. The DI must arrive at the DNR building no later than 8:50pm to gain access to the animal area. If you are interested in participating, please contact Beth Girard, MHS State Fair Chair, at 612/616-8431 or by e-mail at


The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2012

Volume 32

Number 8

Be Part of the Board of MHS! It’s that time of the year again! You will be hearing more about the coming elections in the upcoming general meeting, but until then do try to think of any nominations you might like to make! The Minnesota Herpetological Society is comprised entirely of unpaid, volunteer positions. Virtually everything accomplished by the Society is done through individual or group incentive, effort and vision. Much of what is done may not be visible, but is necessary for the success of the Society. MHS is very proud of the high percentage of active, dedicated volunteers. There are many opportunities available to those willing to devote their time and energy by becoming a contributor. Contributions need

not be monetary to be effective. Participation of our active membership determines the direction of MHS. Think of how you can help MHS grow, move forward, and find new directions to explore. This is, after all, your society. Get involved! We’ve included the duties and description of MHS board and chair positions so you can see what each job entails. For more information contact someone on the board. In order to join the board, you must be a current, active member of MHS, and have reached the age of majority. Come and join the board- Be part of the adventure!

Board Positions President: The president is the good will ambassador and spokesmen for the society. They chair monthly membership meetings and board meetings. Appoint all special and standing comittee chairs; subject to the approval of the Board. Ensure all decisions by the board are followed. Notify people of the board’s decisions. Maintain a list of all volunteers, and keep a tally of total hours. Prepare an annual schedule of society events and tasks. Confirm that mandatory deliverables are completed. Confirm insurance coverage is adequate. Confirm that club duties are completed by officers and committees. Vice President: The Vice President is responsible for coordinating and introducing the speakers at the monthly meetings. He/She also assesses and facilitates the needs of the speakers, as well as adjusting the lighting in the room as needed. The Vice Presidential duties also include assisting the President, performing his/her duties in case of absence, notifying the newsletter of upcoming speakers and generating an article

to promote those upcoming speakers. He/She is also to attend the board meetings which are held the Saturdays following the monthly meeting. Treasurer: Responsible for all funds and assets of the MHS. Maintain checkbook and banking accounts. Sets-up and maintains ledgers. Present monthly financial report at board meeting and for newsletter. Maintains expense accounts. Reconciles statements. Prepares financial documentation on all club activities. Prepares yearend report and submits the records for audit. Serves on the annual audit committee. Membership Secretary: Collect payment for membership and provide funds to treasurer, maintain and update membership database. Activates new members on the website. Responsible for supplying a monthly summary of membership activities, and maintaining a file of prior newsletters and responding to all information and membership inquiries. Insures the printing 6

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2012

Volume 32

Number 8

of the annual white pages. Making backups of all In addition to all duties listed, all board memreports. Newsletter label creation and distribubers are expected to be present during the tion. monthly board meeting that takes place the day following the general meeting, usually located Recording Secretary: Records the minutes of in student services. Beyond that, all Officers are the monthly board and general meetings and expected to abide the membership bylaws and provides summaries to the Newsletter Editor. policies of MHS. The Recording Secretary maintains: the minutes of the board meetings, a complete archive of past newsletters, and a listing of the inventory of MHS supplies, fixtures and goods. Other duties include chairing the Election Committee and providing an annual summary of any unresolved action items. Newsletter Editor: Edits submissions, enters monthly business, and prepares the MHS newsletter for printing. The Editor also solicits articles, items of interest and advertising. The Editor is responsible for the appearance of the newsletter. Member-at-Large: Participate in the decision making process and volunteer for projects or committees. The Members-At-Large perform other duties as assigned by the President (e.g. pass out information at meetings, field questions, etc). 7

The Newsletter of the Minnesota Herpetological Society

August 2012

Number 8

Treasurer’s Report for June 2012

Webmaster Needed! The MHS is seeking 1-2 people familiar with website maintenance. People should have some html experience. Experience using Drupal is a plus! Please e-mail Chris with questions.

Volume 32

Prepared by Nancy Haig

Beginning Balance


Income: Membership $130.00 Ads $50.00 Raffle $40.00 Adoption $160.00 Rodent Sales $555.00 Misc Donations $50.00 Hands-On Donations $347.00

Total Income $1337.00 Expense: Newsletter $175.86 Program $100.00 Insurance $712.44 Rodent Cost $0.00

Total Expense


Cash Increase/Decrease


Ending Balance


Placement of cash holdings

Checking Account TCF/Paypal Paypal Cash on hand

$15,125.00 $811.37 $255.24 $175.00

Total $16,366.61

July Adoption Report

Posted by Sarah Richard, Written by Chris Rueber


Two Red-Eared Sliders, a 3-toed Box Turtle, a Sulcata (18”/50lbs), a African Clawed Frog, a Chinese Water Dragon (baby), two Iguanas, a Gecko, a Checkered Gartersnake (medium size), a Normal Cornsnake, a Pale Grey Cornsnake, three Ball Pythons,a Reticulated Python (10’, young), two Common Boas, a Bearded Dragon, a Mexican Black Kingsnake and an unmentioned number of FireBellied Toads

Minnesota Herpetological Society Membership Application New




Membership #

City, State, Zip Phone Email List in MHS Directory? Yes No Contact information only? Yes No


Herp related interests

Check #

Active Memberships: Sustainin ($60/year) Contributing ($40/year) Basic ($20/year) Printed Newsletter ($5/year plus membership) Corresponding Memberships: Commercial ($25/year, 2 business card ads/year) Required check info. Drivers Lic #



Please enclose the proper payment with your application. Make checks payable to MINNESOTA HERPETOLOGICAL SOCIETY. Membership is for 12 months from the date of approval. A receipt will be sent only upon request. Mail To: Minnesota Herpetological Society, C/O BELL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing.

Rodents! Order online!

Did you know you can order online? By phone? See below! MICE

Pinkies Fuzzies Hoppers Weanlings Adults Jumbo Adult


Small Adults Med Adults Large Adults Jumbo

WEIGHT 2-3 grams 5-7 grams 8-11 grams 12-15 grams 25-30 grams 45+ grams

WEIGHT 50-60 grams 125-150 grams 200-240 grams 250-350 grams


$7 / dz $7 / dz $8 / dz $9 / dz $10 / dz $14 / dz


$18 / dz $24 / dz $30 / dz $36 / dz

For pick-up at monthly meetings only. Orders may be placed the following ways 1. At the meeting for the following Month 2. Online at 3. Calling the MHS voicemail: 612.326.6516 Orders MUST be placed 10 DAYS IN ADVANCE of the date of meeting in order to guarantee availability.

Advertising Policies MHS Ad Policy: The MHS assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY regarding the health or legality of any animal, or the quality or legality of any product or service advertised in the MHS Newsletter. Any ad may be rejected at the discretion of the Newsletter Editor. Due to space limitations, unpaid and complimentary advertisements are subject to occasional omission. Classified Ads: All active members are allowed a classified ad, run free of charge as space permits. Ads may be run three (3) consecutive months, after which time they may be resubmitted. Submissions: All advertisements should be submitted to the MHS Membership Secretary at the general meeting or mailed to: Minnesota Herpetological Society, C/O Bell Museum of Natural History. 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Deadline is the night of the General Meeting for inclusion in the next newsletter. Make checks payable to: Minnesota Herpetological Society.

Advertising Costs Size

Business Card Sized 1/4 Page 1/2 Page Full Page


$5/month or $55/year* $10/month or $110/year* $20/month or $220/year* $40/month or $440/year*


Next Meeting:

Friday - August 3rd - 7:00 pm Room 335 Borlaug Hall, U of M St. Paul Campus

MHS Voice Mail: 612.326.6516 MHS Web Page:

This newsletter is printed on recycled paper

Vol 32 (2012), No. 8  

Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter

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