In Search of Kenya’s Elusive Wild Dogs

by Elizabeth Pennisi

Most visitors to Africa come for the lions, elephants, and rhinos. But for the tourists who helicoptered into this somewhat remote region of central Kenya last month, wild dogs topped their list. Once so common in Africa that they were shot as vermin, the elusive canines are becoming poster children for conservation: Fewer than 7000 are left in Africa, their native range.

A reporter visiting the center, I love dogs and so jumped at the chance to track some down in advance of the tourists’ arrival. It was a dusty, bumpy ride into the bush, for a fleeting view of animals that aren’t really dogs after all. But along the way, I came to appreciate their incredible story.

They are full of wanderlust, and their packs show camaraderie and coordination to rival the best military unit. Yet they are quite vulnerable, and even though several teams of researchers have dedicated large chunks of their lives following these animals, much about them remains mysterious.

Despite the name, Lycaon pictus is a distant relative of household canines. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can all interbreed but not with wild dogs, which are sometimes called painted wolves because of their colorful and variable coat patterns…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

photos by Stefanie Strebel and Elizabeth Pennisi

New grey wolf populations found in Canada
by Zoe Gough
Two distinct populations of grey wolves have been found living side-by-side in British Columbia, Canada.

The research built on the knowledge of indigenous people who had distinguished between the mainland “timber wolf” and island “coastal wolf”. Scientists compared DNA from wolf faeces to determine if the two groups were different. They say their findings show that different environments can influence genetic changes.

The team, based at the University of Victoria, reported their research in the journal BMC Ecology.
The study focused on an area of the central coast of British Columbia known as Bella Bella, which includes a mainland landmass separated from five islands by water…
(read more: BBC Nature)
photograph by Chris Darimont

New grey wolf populations found in Canada

by Zoe Gough

Two distinct populations of grey wolves have been found living side-by-side in British Columbia, Canada.

The research built on the knowledge of indigenous people who had distinguished between the mainland “timber wolf” and island “coastal wolf”. Scientists compared DNA from wolf faeces to determine if the two groups were different. They say their findings show that different environments can influence genetic changes.

The team, based at the University of Victoria, reported their research in the journal BMC Ecology.

The study focused on an area of the central coast of British Columbia known as Bella Bella, which includes a mainland landmass separated from five islands by water…

(read more: BBC Nature)

photograph by Chris Darimont

San Angelo State Park - San Angelo, TX
“I was on Turkey Creek Trail and heading south today (Thursday at 11:44) and saw this grey fox about 100 - 200 meters south of where Turkey Creek, River Bend and Flintstone trails meet. 
The wind was blowing towards me and I was about 20 meters away from him; he didn’t see me at first so I was able to watch him hunt, I assume for lizards, for a minute or so before he noticed me. Because I has holding still, he didn’t know what I was so wasn’t alarmed, I got a shot of him sitting and scratching. As he started walking toward me to investigate, the wind stopped blowing and he got a whiff of me and took off… 
First grey fox I’ve seen in all the years at the park!!!” (Story and photo: Michael Erb)

San Angelo State Park - San Angelo, TX

I was on Turkey Creek Trail and heading south today (Thursday at 11:44) and saw this grey fox about 100 - 200 meters south of where Turkey Creek, River Bend and Flintstone trails meet.

The wind was blowing towards me and I was about 20 meters away from him; he didn’t see me at first so I was able to watch him hunt, I assume for lizards, for a minute or so before he noticed me. Because I has holding still, he didn’t know what I was so wasn’t alarmed, I got a shot of him sitting and scratching. As he started walking toward me to investigate, the wind stopped blowing and he got a whiff of me and took off…

First grey fox I’ve seen in all the years at the park!!!

(Story and photo: Michael Erb)

12 Playful Dhole Pups at Howletts Wild Animal Park, UK

Dholes, also known as Asiatic Wild Dogs, typically have litters of four to ten pups.  “To have a litter of 12 healthy and active pups is quite unusual,” said Ben Warren, head of the park’s Carnivore Section.  “The pups are getting really confident now and love playing around and annoying the adults, they’re really entertaining to watch.”

Dholes typically live in large packs.  Once weaned, the pups are cared for and fed by the entire pack. Packs work together to take down large deer, wild boar, and cattle.  Unlike other pack hunters, like wolves, who allow the dominant adults to feed first at a kill, Dholes give priority to pups.  Nursing females and their young are fed regurgitated food by other members of the pack. ..

(read more: ZooBorns)

Oregon’s Lone Wolf

OR7, a lone wolf originally from northeast Oregon that has traveled to California and back to Oregon, may have found a mate in southwest Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.

In early May, remote cameras on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest captured several images of what appears to be a black female wolf in the same area where OR7 is currently located. Based on data, it appears likely that the new wolf and OR7 have paired up and may have denned. If that is correct, they would be rearing pups at this time of year.

The Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife probably won’t be able to confirm the presence of pups until June or later.

See the news release here: FWS - Pacific Region - Wolf

Photos by US Fish and Wildlife Service

(via: USFWS_Pacific Region)

mucholderthen
mucholderthen:

Canine Evolutionary Tree     |     Credit:  Laurie O’Keefe    Science Photo Library  (via X)
THE WOLVES WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLDThe dog, Canis familiaris, is a direct descendant of the gray wolf, Canis lupus.  In other words, dogs as we know them are domesticated wolves.

Or: humans as we know them are domesticated hominids.  Wolves seem to have taken the initiative, leading to today’s dogs and their humans.

Darwin was wrong about dogs. He thought their remarkable diversity must reflect interbreeding with several types of wild dogs. But the DNA findings say differently. All modern dogs are descendants of wolves, though this domestication may have happened twice, producing groups of dogs descended from two unique common ancestors. 
How and when this domestication happened has been a matter of speculation. It was thought until the end of the 20th century that dogs were wild until about 12,000 years ago. But DNA analysis suggests a possible date of about 100,000 years ago for the transformation of wolves to dogs. This means that wolves began to adapt to human society long before humans settled down and began practicing agriculture. 
This casts doubt on the long-held belief that humans domesticated dogs to serve as guards or companions. Rather, say some experts, dogs [i.e., wolves] may have exploited a niche they discovered in early human society and got humans to take them in out of the cold. 
Evolution Library

mucholderthen:

Canine Evolutionary Tree     |     Credit:  Laurie O’Keefe    
Science Photo Library  (via X)

THE WOLVES WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD
The dog, Canis familiaris, is a direct descendant of the gray wolf, Canis lupus.  In other words, dogs as we know them are domesticated wolves.

Or: humans as we know them are domesticated hominids.  Wolves seem to have taken the initiative, leading to today’s dogs and their humans.

Darwin was wrong about dogs. He thought their remarkable diversity must reflect interbreeding with several types of wild dogs. But the DNA findings say differently. All modern dogs are descendants of wolves, though this domestication may have happened twice, producing groups of dogs descended from two unique common ancestors. 

How and when this domestication happened has been a matter of speculation. It was thought until the end of the 20th century that dogs were wild until about 12,000 years ago. But DNA analysis suggests a possible date of about 100,000 years ago for the transformation of wolves to dogs. This means that wolves began to adapt to human society long before humans settled down and began practicing agriculture. 

This casts doubt on the long-held belief that humans domesticated dogs to serve as guards or companions. Rather, say some experts, dogs [i.e., wolves] may have exploited a niche they discovered in early human society and got humans to take them in out of the cold. 

Evolution Library

Major discovery: Wolves help trees grow, rivers flow, countless species flourish
by Michael Graham Richard
It might not seem obvious at first, but wolves can have a huge indirect effect on ecosystems. They aren’t just good for reducing deer populations and such; they fundamentally change how these herbivores behave, where they graze and which areas they avoid.
This means that trees and plants start growing again in places that were overgrazed, giving shelter to all kinds of species (songbirds, beavers, rabbits). This in turns changes how the local ecosystem works further, providing more ecological niches to more species, until after a few years the area is almost unrecognizably more alive! All this thanks to wolves, this underrated apex predator!
Check out the great video below to see the chain of events in action after wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone after an absence of about 70 years…
(find out more: TreeHugger)

Major discovery: Wolves help trees grow, rivers flow, countless species flourish

by Michael Graham Richard

It might not seem obvious at first, but wolves can have a huge indirect effect on ecosystems. They aren’t just good for reducing deer populations and such; they fundamentally change how these herbivores behave, where they graze and which areas they avoid.

This means that trees and plants start growing again in places that were overgrazed, giving shelter to all kinds of species (songbirds, beavers, rabbits). This in turns changes how the local ecosystem works further, providing more ecological niches to more species, until after a few years the area is almost unrecognizably more alive! All this thanks to wolves, this underrated apex predator!

Check out the great video below to see the chain of events in action after wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone after an absence of about 70 years…

(find out more: TreeHugger)

Dingoes Aren’t Just Wild Dogs
Rather than being the descendants of feral mutts, dingoes are actually in their own unique taxonomical corner
by Rachel Nuwer
Dingoes might look like your run-of-the-mill mongrel pooch, and for years, researchers assumed the dingo’s ancestors were domesticated dogs from East Asia that subsequently went wild. But it turns out that dingoes are more unique than that. They are not only a distinct species, but also a distinct group of predators, separate from dogs and wolves, The Scientist reports.
Dingoes arrived in Australia several thousands years ago, and they were first mentioned as a species in 1793. At that time, they were called Canis dingo. However, their official name was soon changed to Canis lupus dingo, on the assumption that dingoes were, in fact, a subspecies of wolf and within the same evolutionary clade as domestic dogs.
In a new study, researchers challenged that assumption. They examined 69 dingo skulls that dated back to 1900 or earlier—presumably before dingoes would have encountered and interbred with domesticated dogs, which only arrived in Australia when Europeans did. Dingoes, the researchers found, have anatomical features that set them apart from dogs and wolves, including a wider head and longer snout, The Scientist writes. The team also found that dingoes don’t necessarily have to be tan-colored; they can be black, white or dark brown, too…
(read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dingoes-arent-just-wild-dogs-180950384/?utm_source=facebook.com&no-ist)
photo: PartnerHund

Dingoes Aren’t Just Wild Dogs

Rather than being the descendants of feral mutts, dingoes are actually in their own unique taxonomical corner

by Rachel Nuwer

Dingoes might look like your run-of-the-mill mongrel pooch, and for years, researchers assumed the dingo’s ancestors were domesticated dogs from East Asia that subsequently went wild. But it turns out that dingoes are more unique than that. They are not only a distinct species, but also a distinct group of predators, separate from dogs and wolves, The Scientist reports.

Dingoes arrived in Australia several thousands years ago, and they were first mentioned as a species in 1793. At that time, they were called Canis dingo. However, their official name was soon changed to Canis lupus dingo, on the assumption that dingoes were, in fact, a subspecies of wolf and within the same evolutionary clade as domestic dogs.

In a new study, researchers challenged that assumption. They examined 69 dingo skulls that dated back to 1900 or earlier—presumably before dingoes would have encountered and interbred with domesticated dogs, which only arrived in Australia when Europeans did. Dingoes, the researchers found, have anatomical features that set them apart from dogs and wolves, including a wider head and longer snout, The Scientist writes. The team also found that dingoes don’t necessarily have to be tan-colored; they can be black, white or dark brown, too…

(read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dingoes-arent-just-wild-dogs-180950384/?utm_source=facebook.com&no-ist)

photo: PartnerHund