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Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU

New West Daily Roundup for Nov. 12, 2015

In New West news: Brigham Young University ranks high in entrepreneurial studies, new Super Duck fossil provides missing link to Montana’s state dinosaur, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks considers letting people fish on Madison River year-round, and Forbes favorably ranks Denver and Utah in job growth.

In their 10th annual survey of the top 25 undergraduate and graduate schools for entrepreneurship studies, the Princeton Review found Brigham Young University second best in the nation for undergraduate entrepreneurship studies and seventh for graduate studies, according to a news release from the Utah Technology Council:

The Princeton Review conducted its survey for this project from May through August 2015. The 60-question survey asked schools to report on levels of their commitment to entrepreneurship studies inside and outside the classroom. More than three dozen data points were analyzed for the tally that determined the rankings. Topics covered included: the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, the number and reach of mentorship programs, scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies, and the level of support for school-sponsored business plan competitions.

With their undergraduate program, BYU pulled ahead of other institutions such as the University of Houston, Baylor University, the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and University of Maryland–College Park. Babson College took the top undergraduate spot while Harvard took the best graduate rank. The University of Utah pulled in laudable rankings as well: 17th in graduate studies, 24th in undergraduate. No other New West school (besides the University of Washington) cracked the top 25.

Over in Montana, a new “Super Duck” fossil unearthed from mudstone in Kennedy Coulee, just shy of the Alberta-Montana border, could provide a heretofore missing link in the evolution of the Maiasaura, Montana’s state dinosaur, according to the Billings Gazette. “When everything was cleaned, it revealed this little crest — a tiny little stubby crest on its head — like nothing we’d ever seen,” said Elizabeth Freedman Fowler, an adjunct professor at Montana State University and curator of paleontology at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, to the Gazette. This Super Duck specimen (or Probrachylophosaurus bergei [gen. et sp. nov.]) is estimated 14 years old at time of death weighing five tons and measuring 30 feet in length.

“It’s a pretty important dinosaur considering the fact that it shows an evolutionary transition,” added Jack Horner, professor of paleontology at Montana State University. “You don’t see that too often. Most of the snapshots we get of animals are so separated in time that we only see different species.”

Fowler speculates the crest could have been used to attract mates, the size and shape of the crest signifying genetic potential and overall vitality. This would match the function of crests on birds—dinosaurs’ direct descendants. Fowler further hypothesizes both male and females in the Super Duck species had crests. According to the Gazette, this isn’t the first Super Duck to be unearthed; that honor goes to a specimen found in 1981 north of Rudyard, Montana along the Milk River drainage. This Super Duck is, however, the first to exhibit such a unique crest.

Fowler and Horner published their findings in Plos One, which you can read here. Fowler says she is planning to investigate the specimen further, since its nose was found broken and (most interestingly) healed from a previous wound.

Keeping with Montana, the Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency is set to vote on whether to allow anglers to fish the Madison River year-round, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. FWP officials say the move will decongest angling spots up and down the Madison, easing pressure on certain areas—a rationale that has Montana Trout Unlimited Executive Director Bruce Farling uneasy over anglers hitting the river in winter and spring. “What we’ve said is if you open those other reaches, they’re going to get inordinate pressure too,” he said to the Chronicle. Craig Matthews, of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, argues the agency is just trying to expand their season—out of concern with themselves, not with anglers or fish.

The FWP’s announcement comes after this summer’s comment period, when the agency solicited input on new seasonal rules as well as whether anglers should be allowed to keep some fish from the Madison. The latter proposal was dropped after overwhelmingly negative feedback. The possible season expansion reportedly met opposition—54 percent against, 46 percent in favor, according to the Chronicle—but the agency is moving ahead with a vote anyway. The Chronicle also reports the agency is mulling whether to eliminate special rules on Darlington Spring Creek and Poindexter Slough, as well as whether to let anglers kill one Yellowstone cutthroat trout as part of their catch on Hyalite Creek.

Finally, Denver netted some more accolades from Forbes, according to the Denver Business Journal. Forbes put Denver eighth in the nation for job climate, tied with San Diego and Portland. Job growth is up 3.1 percent in each state this year. In the U.S., job growth is up 2.2 percent, up 1.8 percent from last year’s growth rate. The report was complied by Arizona State University business professor Lee McPheters with statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. McPheters noted that as the energy market slides, construction and real estate are stepping in as job and revenue generators.

The report (which you can read here) also had some great news for Utah. The Beehive State pulled in as the best state for job growth in 2015, with a growth rate of 4.1 percent. Washington tied for second with Florida, while Oregon pulled in at fourth place. Idaho also scored well, tying with California for sixth place.

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