The Case of Immortal Newt, Relict Fish and Amphipod Traveler
How schoolboy Mishka discovered the "dinosaurs" of Kenozero

Mishka, a schoolboy in Ust-Pocha, was in a bad mood.

"Got an F and don't know how to tell us?" his father lobbed a jab at him at breakfast.

"Worse, Dad. I said something I don't know how to prove. I'm going to be a laughing stock for this mean girl from Moscow, Mashka. She's staying at her grandma's in Pershlakhta."

It turned out Mishka met the "mean girl Mashka" at a biology competition at his school. When they all had tea and talked about dinosaurs, Mashka boasted she had been a frequent visitor to Darwin Museum and showed endless pictures of dinosaurs in her phone as proof. Mishka plumped out a remark:

"Those are dead dinosaurs in your museum. We have live monsters here in Kenozero, like those in Scotland's Loch Ness. I saw them with my own eyes."

The "mean girl Mashka" didn't believe him. She needed proof. Mishka's father scolded him a little for speaking without thinking, but then softened his stance:

"Actually, you did see them relic animals here in Kenozero. Go get my bucket of fish over here."

There was nothing special in the bucket. Just a couple of blue breams with scales of iridescent play of colors and a rudd with red fins. Or was there?

"Thousands of years ago, the area of Kenozero was a much warmer place," Mishka's father started his story. "The lake abounded in thermophilic fish. But when cold set in, which happened four thousand years ago, they all died out except two species – rudd and blue bream. They still inhabit the Kenozero. And you are having them for dinner tonight, by the way, fried and sizzling on your pan."

"Four thousand years old is too young," Mishka said, dissatisfied. "The dinosaurs on display are surely older."

"Then tell her about the sandhopper. Remember the little Pallas amphipod I once showed you?"

"I do," Mishka remembered.

"Its ancestor originates from the far-away Lake Baikal. Millions of years ago, Mishka, there existed the cold Sea of Yoldia. That ancestoral amphipod used it, and the system of the northern lakes, to reach our parts. Then, after the Yoldia Sea transformed into a chain of lakes, the amphipod appeared trapped in Lake Kenozero. The lake became fresh with years, but the amphipod had managed to adjust, which wasn't easy at all, you know."

"But an amphipod is not a dinosaur," Mishka argued.

"Then read this," Mishka's father gave him a newspaper. "Lake Kenozero has been discovered to be inhabited by crested newt, a rare protected species. Crested newt is able to grow back a missing leg or tail within four months. It can survive the cold quite easily, freezing into ice in winter and coming back to life after spring thaw. A slow and clumsy walker, crested newt is a skillful swimmer and diver. Have a look."

"A mini dinosaur" Mishka nodded in agreement.

"Maybe Mashka is not as mean as she seems? Come on, tell us, Mishka!"

"Well, she's cheerful. It's never boring with her," Mishka blushed.

"That's where you should have started… Dinosaurs…," his father laughed. "Why don't you invite her to our place for tea and pies next time she comes. Maybe take her for a bicycle ride?"

A bicycle ride? No way I'm taking her for a ride. But pies sound good," Mishka thought to himself. Little did Dad know how mean Mashka could be.