the return of the world famous christmas quiz

Welcome to the 11th yourYukon Christmas Quiz, a treasured tradition. Actually, it's especially treasured by the yourYukon writers. We are Very Serious Science Writers for most of the year, but at Christmas, we get a present - a chance to be seriously silly.

By the Your Yukon Writers

Welcome to the 11th yourYukon Christmas Quiz, a treasured tradition. Actually, it’s especially treasured by the yourYukon writers. We are Very Serious Science Writers for most of the year, but at Christmas, we get a present – a chance to be seriously silly.

So, are you ready for this? Have you been reading closely? Have you been reading at all? If not, don’t panic. The quiz questions are based on yourYukon columns printed in 2009 in the Yukon News.

Even if you haven’t saved the 2009 columns (and we know you meant to save them!), all is not lost. You can find them in the yourYukon archives at

Take the test and add up the number of right answers to determine if you’re:

* Hackus coolis (14)

* Whizzus borealis (11-13)

* Kinda smartiis (7-10)

* Gotta studius (4-6)

* Cheechakus yukonensis (0-3)

And (insert mysterious music) check out the bonus question at the bottom of the column.

1. The Yukon Floater is:

a. a lifejacket developed especially for northern conditions.

b. a freshwater mussel.

c. a rare flowering water plant related to the water lily.

d. a kind of algae frequently mistaken for a sewage spill.

2. Researchers in the Kluane area played recordings of woodpecker calls and drums:

a. to frighten away the spruce bark beetles.

b. because the rhythms are way cool.

c. to get other woodpeckers to respond and reveal their presence.

d. to test how far the sound carries in the boreal forest.

3. After a forest fire in a wetland, ducks:

a. leave and never return.

b. suffer from burned feet from stamping out the flames.

c. return, sometimes in even greater numbers, within a couple of years.

d. move their nests to abandoned muskrat burrows for safety.

4. Meteorologist Michael Purves spent months poring over old weather reports:

a. to verify the Yukon’s claim to Canada’s lowest recorded temperature.

b. looking for data that can give a picture of the Yukon climate and how it might be changing.

c. to establish the best kind of thermometer for use in cold climates.

d. to prove that the old-timers really did have it as tough as they say.

5. A collared pika pays closest attention to the calls of:

a. other pikas, for fear they’re would-be haystack thieves.

b. golden-crowned sparrows, because they can see approaching danger from above.

c. hoary marmots, because they watch for similar predators.

d. passing researchers, because pikas have learned they carry sandwiches and other tasty treats.

6. The dune tachinid fly is:

a. a Yukon-developed attachment for lightweight tents, designed to protect them in sandstorms.

b. a rare, parasitic fly found in sandy areas of the Yukon and parts of Europe.

c. a fossil insect discovered in the frozen nest of an ancient Beringian ground squirrel.

d. the proper name for the common housefly.

7. When a red fox meets an arctic fox, it’s most likely to:

a. roll over on its back and invite the arctic fox to play.

b. walk right by because it can’t see the white arctic fox against the snow.

c. chase and kill the arctic fox.

d. run like blazes.

8. Yukon forest fires are typically crown fires that destroy the whole forest because:

a. white spruce have a structure that promotes fire.

b. the dry boreal climate enables fire to leap from crown to crown.

c. the large population of woodpeckers creates oxygen-filled air pockets in tree trunks.

d. spruce, pine, and birch trees have a high sap content that ignites easily.

9. Which of the following do salmon NOT bring to the Fishing Branch River?

a. Human-produced contaminants.

b. Phosphorus.

c. Grizzly bears.

d. The fish flu virus.

10. High-resolution images of the aurora borealis taken by ground-based cameras in the Arctic are sent south to THEMIS Project scientists in Calgary via:

a. the internet.

b. UHF transmission.

c. Canada Post.

d. dog team.

11. Which of the following definitely did NOT set the coal and shale beds in the Bonnet Plume Basin area on fire?

a. Vandals on ATVs.

b. Lightning strikes.

b. Forest fires.

d. Spontaneous combustion.

12. Russian prospectors make good use of lichen because lichen:

a. are part of a traditional Russian cure for vodka hangovers.

b. take on a gold hue when located near gold deposits.

c. help when digesting a wilderness diet heavy in fats.

d. contain trace elements of mineral deposits in the region.

13. One reason way ice worms and earth worms survive in the Arctic is by depositing their eggs:

a. among miners’ dirty socks.

b. deep in lemming burrows.

c. in cocoons.

d. under wildlife scat.

Bonus Question:

Yukon geologists mapped the Chadburn Buried Valley with the aid of:

a. a specially-trained dog.

b. a shotgun.

c. a borrowed oil-patch bore-hole drill.

d. a really big stick.

To find the answer to the bonus question, you’ll have to go to the your Yukon on-line archives at

For answers to the rest of the questions, see below.

This column is co-ordinated by the Northern Research Institute at Yukon College with financial support from Environment Yukon and Yukon College. The articles are archived at


1b; 2c; 3c; 4b; 5a; 6b; 7c; 8a; 9d; 10c; 11a; 12d; 13c