Guard Dog Wouldn’t Leave Goat Flock During California Fires—And Lived to Tell the Story
By Andrew Amelinckx
The fire the Hendels barely escaped was part of the Northern California firestorm that has so far claimed 40 lives—including one of their neighbors, Lynne Powell—destroyed countless homes, and caused billions of dollars in damage.
"Later that morning when we had outrun the fires I cried, sure that I had sentenced Odie to death, along with our precious family of bottle-raised goats," Roland Hendel wrote in a recent Facebook post.
Odin, named after the Norse God, was known for his fierce loyalty to his flock, over which he shared guarding duty with his sister, Tessa (who was taken to safety with the family). According to his master, it was nearly impossible to separate him from the goats, even in the best of circumstances. "I made a decision to leave him, and I doubt I could have made him come with us if I tried," wrote Hendel.
Odin with his goat flock after the fire.Roland Hendel / Facebook
Finally, on Oct. 10, after the fire subsided enough for the family to return to their home—they had to sneak in via a backroad due to roadblocks that had been set up—they found the property in ruins, with trees still burning and an estimated million dollars worth of damage. They expected the worst in regard to Odin and the other animals. Suddenly the goats appeared (unscathed save for a minor, small burn on one) and raced towards them, followed close behind by Odin, his fur singed, his whiskers melted, and hobbling along favoring his right side. Hendel couldn't believe it, calling it a miracle. Even more amazing, Odin had adopted several baby deer who huddled around him for safety.
Part of the Hendel's devastated property in Santa Rosa. Roland Hendel / Facebook
There was a slight scare on Oct. 14, when it appeared that all the animals had wandered off the property. They returned later that day, however, and Hendel suspects they likely went in search of their humans.
Odin was soon reunited with his sister. "He appears to be getting stronger, and his sister's presence will surely help to lift his spirits and take some of the burden off his giant shoulders," wrote Hendel, who'd rescued the siblings as puppies—this had been the first time ever the pair had spent even a day apart, according to ABC 7 News, which first reported the story.
All the animals were eventually taken to a temporary shelter where they are now recovering from their ordeal. The family has set up a YouCaring crowdfunding page, here, to help cover Odin's medical care and rebuild their property. Since first posting, the crowdfunding page has been shared more than 8,000 times and raised more than $64,000. The animals are doing well, said Hendel. Odin is getting stronger and enjoying all the attention and spotlight, especially a special steak dinner he and his sister were treated to along with a free visit to a local dog groomer.
"Odin has lived up to his namesake," Hendel wrote on Facebook. "Pray for him and his charges. He is our inspiration. If he can be so fearless in this maelstrom, surely so can we." If you'd like to hear more about this story in Hendel's own words, listen to this CBC Radio interview.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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