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"Taming a Shrew is Highly Unlikely"


Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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Monday, April 1, 2002

Despite a superficial mouse-like appearance Shrews are not rodents, the mammalian group characterized by chisel shaped incisor teeth to which mice, rats, squirrels and a host of other plant eating species belong. Instead, Shrews are members of the order Insectivora; a scientific alias that in this instance at least should require no further clarification. "Insect-eater," however, fails to adequately describe exactly how unlike rodents Shrews actually are.

Granted, Shrews are tiny animals that lead furtive secretive lives. Their resemblance to mice though, is purely a matter of size. Other similarities between Insectivores and the rodents, milk suckled young and fur-covered bodies for example, are simply the result of both groups being mammals. As is the case with most of the so-called "higher mammals," rodents included, developing embryonic Shrews are nourished directly from the motherís womb via a placenta. This evolutionary leap past the egg-laying Platypus and Echidnas, known collectively along with their extinct relatives as the Monotremes, and the pouched Marsupials was almost certainly first achieved by some ancient shrew-like Insectivore.

Assorted "micro-fossils" including tiny teeth, bits of jaw, and some skulls and skeletons of animals best described as Shrews dating back to the late Cretaceous amply demonstrate that the Insectivores are an ancient order indeed. This places Shrews, or something closely resembling the Shrews of today, squarely beneath the thundering feet of Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, and other now long extinct dinosaurs. It also places Shrews and their Insectivore allies at the very base of the multi-branched evolutionary tree leading to all other placental mammals. Traced forward through time, the Shrew lineage ascends most directly through bats, primates and by extension eventually mankind. This means that Shrews are most closely related to bats, monkeys and humans, with rodents more distant cousins to each of these groups.

Our modest ancestry aside, Shrews and other living Insectivores retain a number of primitive anatomical features. Most prominent of these are rather simple sharply pointed teeth, which exhibit virtually none of the modifications seen in mammals of more specialized diet. Flattened grass-grinding molars, wood chopping incisors, and stabbing dagger-like canines unknown in the world of the Shrew. The teeth of North American Shrews are further distinguished .....
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2002 Perennial Plant

Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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of the Year
Virginia CooperMonday, March 4, 2002

The Perennial Plant Association has named Phlox 'David' to be the plant of the year. Each year this esteemed group chooses a plant whose character and grace deserve a place of honor.

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Another Man's Cows

Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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Monday, April 8, 2002

When our neighbors go on vacation for a few days, our sons are often called upon to care for the pets they leave behind. It is rugged duty, but the boys manage. They donít seem to mind driving around the neighborhood, pla ..... 
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Margaret Mead and Gilligan

Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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Monday, March 18, 2001

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travelís sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Our world has sure gotten smaller.

When I was a kid, it never seemed ..... 
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Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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To the Editor,

Voters in the Rushford-Peterson School District have heard many facts regarding the costs associated with building a new school and the costs to repair our existing one. However, a fact that I believe that has been overlooked i ..... 
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Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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To the Editor,

ďNothing we can do will improve the quality of life in any community more than quality schools. Young people who are involved in quality education do not engage in self-destructive activities and are an asset to the community.Ē ..... 
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Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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To The Editor,

The new school Information Committee has been working for the past several weeks to research questions that voters in the Rushford-Peterson district have regarding the new school bond issue vote on April 23. Some recent questio ..... 
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Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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To the Editor,

At Eagle Bluff our role is to teach students to gather the information that they need on a subject, to look at the costs, the benefits, and the alternatives, and then to make a wise, informed decision on the particular issue. T ..... 
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Submit a Letter to the Editorhere

Fri, Apr 12th, 2002
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April 15, 2002

To the Editor,

Kingsland High School has lost a number of students to car crashes because they were not wearing their seat belts. This year at Kingsland we are stressing the importance of seat belts.

We h ..... 
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