The Natural History of Canadian Mammals

The Natural History of Canadian Mammals

DONNA NAUGHTON
PAUL GERAGHTY
JULIUS CSOTONYI
BRENDA CARTER
DONNA NAUGHTON
MICHELINE BEAULIEU-BOUCHARD
ALAN McDONALD
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 824
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt5hjx9d
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  • Book Info
    The Natural History of Canadian Mammals
    Book Description:

    Comprehensive and immensely valuable, TheNatural History of Canadian Mammalswill become a treasured companion for scientific researchers, animal lovers, and all those wishing to gain a greater appreciation of Canada's natural wonders.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6957-4
    Subjects: Zoology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    The main purpose of this book is to inform and encourage the observation, appreciation, and understanding of Canada’s mammals. Identification is often the precursor to understanding; therefore much of the volume attempts to help the reader to distinguish one species from another.

    Species arrangement conforms to the evolutionary or phylogenetic organization favoured by mammalogists today. Similar species are grouped together and these groupings are presented in order of evolutionary advancement as it is currently understood. The preliminary groups are considered more primitive or older while the later groups are considered more advanced or more recent in origin. This organization is...

  5. Identification Plates
    (pp. xix-1)
  6. Order Didelphimorphia:: New World opossums
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 2-3)

      The group of animals of the order Didelphimorphia was formerly combined with all the other marsupials into the order Marsupialia, the ʺpouchedʺ mammals. Recent taxonomic research strongly suggests that there are seven valid orders represented within the former ʺsuperʺ order. Didelphimorphia is the only one of these with representatives in North America, and only one hardy species is found as far north as Canada. There are 17 genera and 87 species in the Didelphimorphia, and all are found only in the Western Hemisphere – North, Central, and South America – and most in South America.Opossumis the name used...

    • FAMILY DIDELPHIDAE: New World opossums
      (pp. 3-7)

      The North American Opossum is the only New World marsupial that reaches North America. None of the others extend northward beyond Central America. The North American Opossum is not a living fossil, as is often reported; it is a relatively new species, first appearing in the fossil record about 120,000 years ago, during the late Pleistocene epoch. Laboratory tests show that opossums, often thought to be dull witted, are actually smarter than Domestic Dogs and similar to pigs in intelligence.

      About the size of a Domestic Cat, the North American Opossum has shorter legs, a much longer, pointed muzzle, and...

  7. Order Primates: humans
    (pp. 8-9)

    The order Primates includes 15 families, 69 genera, and 376 species, of which only one is native to North America:Homo sapiens, humans. There are many volumes devoted exclusively to the history, behaviour, and evolution of our species, and while it is not the intention of this book to treat humans in the same degree of detail as other Canadian mammals, still it needs to be recognized that we are valid faunal components, in many ways pivotal to the future of the mammalian fauna of Canada.

    The first unequivocal fossil primate is 55 million years old.

    Based on the present...

  8. Order Rodentia:: rodents
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 10-11)

      This group is the most numerous, diverse, and widespread of all the mammals. With 33 families, 481 genera, and 2277 species of living rodents, this is clearly the most successful mammalian order. Close to 40% of all mammal species are rodents. They can be found on all the continental land masses except Antarctica, on most of the larger islands, and on many of the smaller islands. Canada supports 9 families, 31 genera, and 69 species of rodents.

      Early rodents began to appear in the fossil record in central Asia during the late Palaeocene Period, about 60 million years ago.

      Often...

    • FAMILY APLODONTIIDAE: mountain beavers
      (pp. 12-15)

      This unique and seldom seen rodent is found only in the moist forests of western North America. It spends most of its life in underground burrows, venturing out to clip vegetation and haul it to a drying pile near the burrow entrance. Notably unbeaver-like, it can climb trees and more closely resembles a tail-less muskrat or a dark woodchuck.

      Mountain Beavers are short-legged, stocky rodents with dark-reddish to blackish-brown coats that are slightly lighter on the underside. Many have a small, whitish spot at the base of each ear and variable-sized whitish patches on their underside. Eyes and ears are...

    • FAMILY SCIURIDAE: squirrels and marmots
      (pp. 15-85)

      These buff-coloured, highly social rodents live in extensive colonies with intricately connected burrow systems. The large mounds of waste soil at the mouths of burrows make the colonies easy to spot. Vegetation around the colony is carefully clipped to ensure a wide field of view.

      In general, Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are sandy brown to reddish brown above and whitish below. Summer coats are darker, with more black hairs than on winter coats. Albinos are rare, but have been reported. Eyes, claws, whiskers, and the last third of the tail are black. Prairie dogs moult twice a year. Their summer coat...

    • FAMILY CASTORIDAE: beavers
      (pp. 85-91)

      Long considered a fitting symbol of Canadian ingenuity and hard work, the North American Beaver has graced our coinage, fed and clothed us, and provided the impetus for the exploration of the New World. Beavers, like humans, can leave a presence visible from space. A large dam in an inaccessible part of Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta, is estimated to be 850 m long. It was discovered through the study of satellite images.

      The North American Beaver is the largest rodent on the continent and the second largest in the world. Only the South American Capybara is larger. Beavers have...

    • FAMILY HETEROMYIDAE: kangaroo rats and pocket mice
      (pp. 92-100)

      Basically bipedal, these beautiful rodents are named for their resemblance to much larger, but similarly bipedal, kangaroos. Their long, banner-like tail helps them to balance on two hind legs. They are members of the family Heteromyidae, which includes 6 genera and 57 species, all of which are endemic to arid regions of western North America and northern South America.

      The disproportionately large hind feet provide most of the propulsion for this saltatorial rodent. The small front legs are used mainly for food manipulation and digging, but do touch the ground to support slow quadrupedal locomotion, such as when the rodent...

    • FAMILY GEOMYIDAE: pocket gophers
      (pp. 101-108)

      The range of these large pocket gophers extends into Canada only in a small portion of southern Manitoba along the Red River valley. Pocket gophers are named for their large cheek pouches or “pockets,” which extend from the side of the mouth all the way back to their shoulders.

      Plains Pocket Gophers have thick, silky fur that is generally darker above and lighter below. Coat colour tends to match the colour of the moist soil in which it lives and is therefore highly variable, from buff to dark reddish brown and black. Most Canadian specimens are a deep mahogany brown...

    • FAMILY DIPODIDAE: jumping mice
      (pp. 108-118)

      This colourful mouse is shy and nocturnal and, hence, rarely seen. Like all the jumping mice, it could easily be mistaken for a very athletic frog because of its hopping gait and small size.

      The Woodland Jumping Mouse is the most brightly coloured small mammal in eastern North America, apart from the Eastern Red Bat. Its flanks are a bright yellowish orange with some thin dark streaks caused by dark tips on the guard hairs. There is a broad, darker band of fur that runs along the back from the nose to the tail. The underside from chin to tail,...

    • FAMILY CRICETIDAE: rats, mice, voles, and lemmings
      (pp. 118-201)

      Members of this subfamily are characterized by their teeth. The crowns of the molars are composed of prisms of alternating triangles. They feed on plant material and have flat-topped molars to provide grinding surfaces and many have rootless molars that are ever-growing to compensate for the relentless wear caused by their diet. Muskrat, Heather Vole, and red-backed voles have rooted molars that have a finite size (i.e., they do not keep growing over the life of the animal). These stocky, short-legged rodents typically have a short muzzle, small eyes and ears, and a tail that is shorter than the head...

    • FAMILY MURIDAE: Old World rats and mice
      (pp. 201-210)

      By stowing away on board ships or in shipments of foodstuffs travelling by air and land, this small rodent has been inadvertently introduced by humans to all continents, except Antarctica. House Mice are called commensal mammals, as they usually live in close association with humans.

      Wild forms are typically brownish grey with a slightly lighter grey to buffy belly, but the primary fur colour may vary from light brown to black, sometimes with white markings. Foot colour is similar to that of the belly, but with a pinkish undertone. The domestic form may be albino (like the standard lab mouse)...

    • FAMILY ERETHIZONTIDAE: New World porcupines
      (pp. 210-216)

      This large, prickly rodent is unique in North America. Its closest relative is a Central American species (genusCoendou). North American Porcupines have developed a physical defence that is so effective that they can afford to become ponderous and relatively unconcerned about predators. In fact, the two major natural causes of mortality among Porcupines are not predation or disease, but rather winter stress (usually starvation) and falling out of trees.

      Porcupine hair comes in four different forms (one more than most mammals): woolly underfur, longer guard hairs, sensory whiskers (vibrissae), and quills. Underfur is short and grey to dark brown...

    • FAMILY MYOCASTORIDAE: nutria
      (pp. 216-219)

      These large, non-native rodents were widely fur-farmed in the early twentieth century and would regularly escape. Deliberate introductions occurred in some southern states where Water Hyacinth, a favourite food of Nutria, was clogging the waterways. Feral colonies can survive for years without support from humans in warmer regions of Canada such as southern Ontario and especially southern British Columbia, but most of these have died off or been purposely eradicated. Nutria continue to be considered a pest species in the southern and northwestern United States.

      Nutria are yellowish brown to dark brown, with reddish highlights depending on their subspecies, and...

  9. Order Lagomorpha:: pikas, hares, and rabbits
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 220-222)

      Of the 13 genera and 92 species of lagomorphs in the world, 4 genera and 9 species are found in Canada. Two of these species were introduced, the European Rabbit and the European Hare. Lagomorphs are native to every continent except Antarctica and Australia and to many of the oceanic islands such as Madagascar, New Zealand, and the West Indies. They are among the most frequently intentionally introduced species, usually as a potential food for human needs.

      There are two main groups of lagomorphs: family Ochotonidae (the pikas) and family Leporidae (the rabbits and hares). Examples of both of these...

    • FAMILY OCHOTONIDAE: pikas
      (pp. 222-227)

      Many populations of this northern species are threatened by climatic change. As the weather warms, less snow falls during the winter, and the Collared Pikas cannot benefit from the insulating properties of a dense snowpack over their burrows. Ironically, many die of the cold because of global warming. Owing to the remote location of these animals, they are not as well known as are their more southerly and more accessible relatives, American Pikas.

      The Collared Pika is a greyer version of the closely related, but more southerly, American Pika. It is about the size of a guinea pig, and the...

    • FAMILY LEPORIDAE: hares and rabbits
      (pp. 228-249)

      Over most of its range the Snowshoe Hare changes colour between the browns of summer and the white of winter. In areas where winter snowfall is uncommon, such as southwestern British Columbia and areas south, the summer and winter coats are both brown. Clearly, the colour change is for the purpose of camouflage, which is further enhanced by the gradual and patchy growth of the new hairs through the old coat; it blends with patches of snow and bare ground during early winter or the spring melt.

      This hare is the smallest of the three Canadian hares and the smallest...

  10. Order Soricomorpha:: shrews and moles
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 250-251)

      This order comprises 4 families, 45 genera, and 429 species and has members on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. In Canada there are representatives of two families, the Soricidae (shrews) and the Talpidae (moles), with a total of 25 species.

      Their ancestors date back to the late Cretaceous in North America and Asia, about 90 million years ago.

      Many physical characteristics of the order Soricomorpha, such as a generalized body shape, a shared exit in some species for the genital and urinary tracts, the lack of a true scrotum, a small and smooth cranial cavity, and the long toothy...

    • FAMILY SORICIDAE: shrews
      (pp. 252-291)

      The mouse-sized Northern Short-tailed Shrew is the largest of the North American shrews. It has the distinction of having a venomous saliva with which it can paralyse its prey. Using the advantages of this neurotoxin, the Northern Short-tailed Shrew can subdue mice and invertebrate prey that are equal in size or even larger than itself. All three species of shrews in the North American genusBlarina, in company with the two European shrews in the genusNeomys, are the only shrews known to produce venomous salivary gland proteins.

      Northern Short-tailed Shrews have a slate-grey to blackish dorsal pelage, often suffused...

    • FAMILY TALPIDAE: moles
      (pp. 291-305)

      The unique Star-nosed Mole is easily recognized by the twenty-two short, pink tentacles (also called nasal rays) that extend outwards from the tip of its snout. The nasal rays are covered by tens of thousands of touch-sensitive receptors, called Eimer’s organs (which are only found in moles), making the star the most highly sensitive and developed touch organ among mammals, far surpassing the abilities of the human hand. As the mole forages or travels through its tunnels, the rays are constantly sweeping the air or water and touching the substrate, likely providing navigational cues as well as detecting prey. The...

  11. Order Chiroptera:: bats
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 306-311)

      Bats – the only mammals capable of powered flight – are among the most unique and interesting of mammals. They are also among the most successful; approximately one in every five species of mammal is a bat. Bats have numerous adaptations not found in other mammals, even apart from the obvious ones related to flight.

      There are 18 families, 202 genera, and 1116 species of bats in the world. In Canada, the 8 genera and 20 species of bats belong to one family, the plain-nosed bats (Vespertilionidae). There is one record of an additional family of free-tailed bats, Molossidae, which...

    • FAMILY MOLOSSIDAE: free-tailed bats
      (pp. 311-313)

      This unusual looking bat has only been recorded once in Canada. A specimen was collected in November 1938 at Essondale, near New Westminister, British Columbia. No others have been reported since then, and that specimen is considered an accidental occurrence. Another free-tailed bat species, the Brazilian Free-tailed Bat, also called the Mexican Free-tailed Bat, has portions of its distribution quite near Canada, especially in the east. It is smaller and exists in much larger numbers than the Big Free-tailed Bat. It is perhaps more likely to occur accidentally in Canada in the future, especially given the effects of global warming....

    • FAMILY VESPERTILIONIDAE: plain-nosed bats
      (pp. 313-355)

      This large, social bat is our only Canadian bat species that occasionally eats vertebrates, although its main prey is large insects.

      The Pallid Bat is light yellowish brown on the back and has an even paler belly. The fur is short, with a lighter base and darker tip. Wing membranes are a dark slate grey and the ears are greyish tan. It is a large bat, by Canadian standards, with oversized ears, eyes and hind feet. The ears are not joined at their base across the forehead and the series of horizontal pleats allow the bat to furl them over...

  12. Order Carnivora:: carnivores
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 356-357)

      The species included within the order Carnivora are native to all continents and oceans. Even the island continents of Australia and Antarctica, which have none of the terrestrial forms, support some of the aquatic forms around their coasts. There are 15 families, 126 genera, and 286 species of Carnivora. In Canada there are representatives from 9 families and 27 genera, with a total of 39 species.

      The oldest known fossil of this order dates back to the Eocene epoch, around 60 million years ago.

      Gripping the prey is an integral part of being a predator; therefore, teeth are an important...

    • FAMILY FELIDAE: cats
      (pp. 358-374)

      Canada Lynx are called the “grey ghosts” of the North, partly owing to the colour of their coat but also to their silent, stealthy habits. Actually seeing a wild Canada Lynx is rare, although their tracks may testify that they are around.

      A Canada Lynx’s winter coat is composed of long, grizzled, grey or black guard hairs with a yellowish-brown or tawny-brown underfur. The combination of colours makes them look greyish to greyishbrown. Their shorter summer coat may be more reddish. The belly, throat, and chin in both pelages are buffy white. The pale throat fur flares out to the...

    • FAMILY CANIDAE: dogs
      (pp. 374-405)

      Despite centuries of persecution and trapping, Coyotes are one of the few modern mammals whose range continues to expand. The name is typically pronouncedky-OAT-eein the east andKY-oatorKY-ootin the west.

      Coyotes are lanky canids with long narrow muzzles, large erect triangular ears, and bushy tails. They are about the size of a Border Collie. Colour is tremendously variable in this species, both among individuals and between geographical populations. Coyotes from dry regions are generally more rufous or yellowish-grey, while forest and northern animals are usually darker and greyer and tend to have longer, coarser hair....

    • FAMILY URSIDAE: bears
      (pp. 406-423)

      The North American Black Bear is the most numerous and widespread of the three North American bears. It once roamed all the forested regions of North America and Mexico. This bear remains the most commonly seen bear in North America but only occupies approximately 62% of its former range.

      North American Black Bears have a wide variety of coat colours. Their uniformly coloured, coarse, dense fur is most commonly black in boreal, montane, and temperate rainforest populations in the east, north, and west coast, but some form of brown, chocolate-brown, reddish-brown (cinnamon), or even occasionally blond pelage is common in...

    • FAMILY OTARIIDAE: fur seals and sea lions
      (pp. 424-435)

      Northern Fur Seals have long been hunted for their valuable pelt. The American commercial harvest of animals from the Pribilof Islands of Alaska was so lucrative that the value of a couple of years of indiscriminate harvesting in the late 1860s more than matched the price paid in 1867 by the United States to Russia for the purchase of all of Alaska.

      These seals have a short snout, small head, large and long hind flippers, and no fur below the wrist on their front flippers. Both front flippers and hind flippers appear to be oversized, but the hind flippers are...

    • FAMILY ODOBENIDAE: walruses
      (pp. 435-439)

      Both male and female Walruses sport a pair of long upper canines. On adult males these can reach 65 cm in length. On females they are less robust and usually shorter. The ivory tusks of Walruses are one of the reasons they have been hunted commercially for at least 1000 years. Walruses have another anatomical distinction that is considerably less evident. Males have a bacula (penis bone) that is the largest of all the mammals. Lengths of 50–60 cm are possible in older males. This bone is wholly internal.

      Adult Walruses are typically cinnamon brown to medium brown in...

    • FAMILY PHOCIDAE: true seals
      (pp. 440-466)

      The inflatable black nose skin (the hood) and the inflatable and shockingly extrudable red nasal sac (the bladder) of adult males give the Hooded Seal its common names. Hooded Seal pups are weaned only four days after they are born, which is the shortest known lactation period of any mammal.

      Juveniles shed their fluffy white “lanugo” (foetal) coat in utero and are born in the “blueback” phase with a slate-grey back and face and a light belly (as illustrated). During the next few annual moults they gradually develop a silver-grey base coat with increasingly darkbrown or black mottling, which is...

    • FAMILY MUSTELIDAE: weasels
      (pp. 466-515)

      Sea Otters are the largest and most aquatic of the weasel family. They are also the smallest of the truly marine mammals. Once hunted almost to extinction for their beautiful, dense fur, the remaining Sea Otters have a genetic diversity that is very low owing to the severe bottleneck caused by the 99% population loss.

      Sea Otters have a long body, short limbs, and a thick neck. They are considered physically and ecologically intermediate between terrestrial and marine carnivores, with many adaptations that suit them to their aquatic environment. Their powerful forepaws are mitten-like with retractable claws. These are used...

    • FAMILY MEPHITIDAE: skunks
      (pp. 515-523)

      Few people are unfamiliar with the most important characteristic of the Striped Skunk: its ability to eject a repugnant and acrid liquid from its anal glands. The Latin wordmephitisreflects this reality; it means “bad odour.” The English name skunk is derived from the Algonquin name for the species.

      About the size of a Domestic Cat, the Striped Skunk has a black pelage with white stripes along the back that is classic “Don’t come near me, I’m dangerous” coloration – easy to see and dramatic. There is considerable variation in the colour patterns and the extent of the white....

    • FAMILY PROCYONIDAE: raccoons
      (pp. 523-529)

      The Northern Raccoon, a medium-sized carnivore, is distinguished by its easily recognizable and striking markings. It has a dark mask over its eyes, and several prominent, dark rings around its light-coloured, bushy tail. Raccoons are commonly called masked bandits, referring both to their conspicuous facial markings and their penchant for raiding crops, gardens, and garbage cans.

      A Northern Raccoon’s coat generally appears grizzled grey or grey brown in colour owing to the mix of long, banded guard hairs and shorter buffy underfur. The guard hairs on the back are typically black or dark brown, while those on the sides are...

  13. Order Perissodactyla:: horses
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 530-531)

      Worldwide there are three families, six genera, and 17 species in this order, which includes tapirs and rhinos as well as horses. The only member of this order that survives in the wild in Canada is the Domestic Horse,Equus caballus,an introduced species.

      The first perissodactyls appeared in Asia or Africa about 55 million years ago in the late Palaeocene epoch and spread into Europe and North America about 45 million years ago. The heyday of this order has passed, and the remaining species are mere remnants of this once widespread and diverse group. The evolutionary history of horses...

    • FAMILY EQUIDAE: horses
      (pp. 532-537)

      Based on their first evidence in cave art, it appears that wild horses have been hunted for food by humans for at least 30,000 years. The first wild horses were domesticated around 3000 to 4000 years ago, probably in eastern Europe, making them the most recent of the large mammals to be domesticated for livestock by early humans. Like other ungulates, horses are engineering marvels with many locomotor adaptations. They can carry their own bodies at tremendous speeds and for great distances, even over broken terrain, and have the added distinction of being able to sustain this agility and stamina...

  14. Order Artiodactyla:: deer, bison, sheep, and other even-toed ungulates
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 538-540)

      Members of the order Artiodactyla are commonly called even-toed ungulates. The third and fourth toes have become dominant, and the remaining toes are reduced or vestigial or have disappeared altogether and, except in the hippos, are no longer weight bearing. Like the Perissodactyla, this order is digitigrade as an adaptation for speed. Artiodactyls are some of the best-known and most significant mammals to humans. Apart from Domestic Horses, most of our important domestic livestock are artiodactyls, as are many of our preferred prey species. Domestic Pigs, Cattle, Sheep, and Goats were derived from European forms about 8,000 to 10,000 years...

    • FAMILY CERVIDAE: deer
      (pp. 540-572)

      The Moose is the largest deer in the world. Adult males are more than 40% heavier than females, and a fully mature male of the largest subspecies (Alces americanus gigas)can weigh in at over 770 kg. His rack alone can weigh 35 kg. These antlers are the largest of all the living deer. They are exceeded only by a few extinct species, including the European Giant Deer or Irish Elk (Megaloceros giganteus), whose paired antlers are thought to weight up to 40 kg, and possibly by an extinct North American ancestor, the Giant Moose (Alces latifrons) with its massive...

    • FAMILY ANTILOCAPRIDAE: pronghorn
      (pp. 572-576)

      Thought to be the fastest terrestrial mammal in the world, Pronghorns can sprint at speeds of possibly as high as 95 km/h and can easily sustain speeds of 70 km/h for several kilometres. Not only are they fast, but they have tremendous stamina. None of their predators can approach these speeds, and hence only fawns that are less than three weeks old are vulnerable. We think that Pronghorns evolved their speed over two million years ago, when they shared the plains with the American Cheetah. This formidable predator became extinct only about 10,000 years ago – not long enough for...

    • FAMILY BOVIDAE: bison, goats, muskoxen, and sheep
      (pp. 577-599)

      Bison are the heaviest terrestrial mammals native to North America. A large wild bull can weigh as much as 1100 kg or more. Captive bulls have been recorded up to 1724 kg. Males are bigger and heavier than females. This species is separated into two subspecies. The more northerly Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) tends to be larger and darker than the plains subspecies (Bison bison bison). Bison are inextricably linked with the culture and survival of many native peoples in western North America. Some of the earliest human artefacts (up to 11,000 years old) in North America are associated...

  15. Order Cetacea:: whales, dolphins, and porpoises
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 600-603)

      The species in this order are wholly aquatic. They inhabit all the world’s oceans and some of its lakes and rivers. There are 10 families, 40 genera, and 84 species in this order. Of these, there are 8 families, 24 genera, and 37 species in Canadian marine waters. There likely are yet undiscovered species within this group, since, despite their size, they are difficult to see and identify and are often found only in the remotest areas of the oceans. The largest animals that have ever lived on Earth are members of this order and are still living in the...

    • Suborder Mysticiti:: baleen whales
      • FAMILY BALAENIDAE: right and bowhead whales
        (pp. 604-612)

        Of all the baleen whales, Bowheads are most adapted to life under and near the ice. Huge heads and broad backs can smash through up to 60 cm of solid ice and they have a thick blubber layer to keep them warm in the cold water. Bowheads can hold their breath for over an hour, a useful ability when living under ice and travelling from breathing hole to breathing hole.

        Adults are black with variable white and black markings on their chins and usually a small amount of white around the genital slit. They often develop some white on the...

      • FAMILY BALAENOPTERIDAE: rorquals
        (pp. 612-628)

        Minke (pronounced mink-ee) Whales are the smallest of the North American rorquals. The only baleen whale smaller is the Pygmy Right Whale, not found in the northern hemisphere. Currently cetologists recognize three subspecies of Minke Whale: the North Atlantic (Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata), the North Pacific (Balaenoptera acutorostrata scammoni), and the Dwarf Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostratassp.), a Southern Hemisphere form, which so far has no taxonomic status, and hence no scientific subspecific name. It is possible that, with more research, the southern form may be shown to be a species in its own right. The Dwarf Minke Whale shares Antarctic...

      • FAMILY ESCHRICHTIIDAE: grey whales
        (pp. 628-632)

        Grey Whales have a unique feeding style that allows them to exploit the highly prized coastal habitat without competing with other whales. They make the second longest yearly migration of any mammal – up to 16,000–20,000 km annually, largely without feeding! Only Northern Elephant Seals travel farther.

        Grey Whales are large, mottled grey baleen whales with light-coloured callosities on various parts of their bodies, especially the head. The colour of the callosities is caused by a covering of barnacles and whale lice on the skin. Calves are darker than adults and although the areas of thickened skin are already...

    • Suborder Odontoceti:: toothed whales
      • FAMILY DELPHINIDAE: ocean dolphins
        (pp. 632-664)

        Before 1994, the Long-beaked Common Dolphin and the Short-beaked Common Dolphin were considered subspecies of the Common Dolphin, and neither was normally found in Canadian western waters. Until 1993, the Long-beaked form was known to extend only as far north as central California, but since then some have been seen in Canadian waters around Vancouver Island.

        The coloration of the Long-beaked Common Dolphin is very similar to, but more muted than, that of the closely related Short-beaked Common Dolphin. It has a light tan or ochre thoracic patch that flares out behind the eye. The back is dark, the sides...

      • FAMILY MONODONTIDAE: belugas and narwhals
        (pp. 664-670)

        Unlike most whales, whose neck bones are fused together, the cervical vertebrae of Belugas are each distinct, making them one of the few whales that can actually turn its head.

        Belugas are stocky whales, with a short beak and a bulging forehead. The bulge, called a melon, is malleable and its shape can be altered by the whale. Their upper lip is cleft and their lips are more labile than is usual for whales. Calves are born a light brown, darkening soon after birth to dark, slate-grey, which sometimes develops a reddish-brown tinge. Their colour gradually fades to white by...

      • FAMILY PHOCOENIDAE: porpoises
        (pp. 670-676)

        This small cetacean is probably the one most commonly seen by Canadians, because it occurs near shore off both our east and west coasts, and is still numerous in most parts of its northern North American range.

        These thick-bodied porpoises are the smallest cetaceans in Canadian waters. They also occupy relatively cold waters, and so, to compensate, have a relatively thick blubber layer that averages 1.5–2.0 cm thick. The dorsal fin, flippers, and flukes are dark grey-black or blackish-brown, as is the back. The leading edge of the dorsal fin is lined with small, raised bumps known as tubercles....

      • FAMILY PHYSETERIDAE: sperm whales
        (pp. 676-685)

        Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales are very similar and are only distinguishable at sea under exceptional viewing conditions. They are rarely seen alive and most of our understanding of them is derived from the examination of stranded animals. Information published before 1966 should be carefully scrutinized, as both forms were considered to be the same species before that time.

        Pygmy Sperm Whales are small, but robust cetaceans with a distinctly shark-like appearance. They have a squared head (when viewed from the side), a small, under-slung lower jaw, and usually a distinct “false gill” marking behind the head. From above or...

      • FAMILY ZIPHIIDAE: beaked whales
        (pp. 685-701)

        The beaked whales are among the least known of all the whales, partly because of their deep-water habitat, but also due to their secretive habits. Baird’s Beaked Whales are the largest of the beaked whales.

        They have a long streamlined body with a small dorsal fin set more than two-thirds of the way down the body. This swept-back dorsal fin has a straight or slightly falcate rear margin and typically a blunt tip. The flippers are small, blunt, and located forward on the body. The flukes have a nearly straight trailing edge with no notch, or at most a slight...

  16. Domestic Mammals
    (pp. 702-708)

    In Canada there are seven principal species of domesticated mammals. The horse is already covered in an earlier portion of the book as there are several wild populations. The others – goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, dogs, and cats – occasionally can survive for a while in the wild, but colonies of these animals have not proved to endure without some form of human intervention. The bones of domesticated animals are frequently unearthed in unusual places. For purposes of identification the skulls of these species are included in this section....

  17. Appendix 1: Identification of Skulls of Canadian Shrews
    (pp. 710-713)
  18. Appendix 2: Identification of Skulls of Canadian Voles
    (pp. 714-718)
  19. Appendix 3: Colour Art Credits
    (pp. 719-721)
  20. Appendix 4: Scientific Names of Species Mentioned in the Text
    (pp. 722-723)
  21. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 724-724)
  22. Glossary
    (pp. 725-727)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 728-779)
  24. Index of common and scientific names
    (pp. 780-784)