Aelurodon, Amphicyon, Borophagus, Cynodictis
Dusicyon, Epicyon, Eucyon, Hesperocyon
How Dogs Evolved Infographics & Information
What was the First Oldest Dog Breed?
Prehistoric Dogs and Millions of Years of Dog Evolution
Origins & Evolution Of The Dog vs Wolf
How Did Dogs Get to Be Dogs?
Evolution of the Dog
Origin of the Domestic Dog
How Have Dogs Evolved Over the Years?
Origins & Evolution Chart Of The Dogs
When did Dogs Become Domesticated?
Modern Theory of Dog Evolution
How Dogs Have Evolved Over Time?
Dog and Wolf Domestication
Dog Evolution Timeline
Dog Evolution Games
From Wolf to Dog
Wolf & Dog Phylogenny
Origins of Dogs
Ancient Dogs vs Modern Dogs
History Of Dog Breeds
Dog Breeds Tree
The Dire Wolf
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In many ways, the story of dog evolution follows the same plot line as the evolution of horses and elephants: a small, inoffensive, ancestral species gives rise, over the course of tens of millions of years, to the respectably sized descendants we know and love today. But there are two big differences in this case: first, dogs are carnivores, and the evolution of carnivores is a twisty, serpentine affair involving not only dogs, but prehistoric hyenas, bears, cats, and now-extinct mammals like creodonts and mesonychids. And second, of course, dog evolution took a sharp right turn about 15,000 years ago, when the first wolves were domesticated by early humans. As far as paleontologists can tell, the very first carnivorous mammals evolved during the late Cretaceous period, about 75 million years ago - the half-pound Cimolestes, which lived high up in trees, being the most likely candidate. However, it's more likely that every carnivorous animal alive today can trace its ancestry back to Miacis, a slightly bigger, weasel-like creature that lived about 55 million years ago, or 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct. Miacis was far from a fearsome killer, though: this tiny furball was also arboreal and feasted on insects and eggs as well as small animals.
Before the Canids:
Creodonts, Mesonychids & Friends
Modern dogs evolved from a line of carnivorous mammals called "canids," after the characteristic shape of their teeth. Before and alongside the canids, though, there were such diverse families of predators as amphicyonids - the "bear dogs," typified by Amphicyon, which seem to have been more closely related to bears than dogs), prehistoric hyenas - Ictitherium was the first of this group to live on the ground rather than in trees, and the "marsupial dogs" of South America and Australia. Although vaguely dog-like in appearance and behavior, these predators weren't directly ancestral to modern canines. Even more fearsome than bear dogs and marsupial dogs were mesonychids and creodonts. The most famous mesonychids were the one-ton Andrewsarchus, the largest ground-dwelling carnivorous mammal that ever lived, and the smaller and more wolflike Mesonyx; oddly enough, mesonychids were ancestral not to modern dogs or cats, but to prehistoric whales. The creodonts, on the other hand, left no living descendants, the most noteworthy members of this breed were Hyaenodon and the strikingly named Sarkastodon, the former of which looked (and behaved) like a wolf and the latter of which looked and behaved like a grizzly bear.
The First Canids:
Hesperocyon and the "Bone-Crushing Dogs
Paleontologists agree that the late Eocene - about 40 to 35 million years ago, Hesperocyon was directly ancestral to all later canids--and thus to the genus Canis, which branched off from a subfamily of canids about six million years ago. This "western dog" was only about the size of a small fox, but its inner-ear structure was characteristic of later dogs, and there's some evidence that it may have lived in communities, either high up in trees or in underground burrows. Hesperocyon is very well-represented in the fossil record; in fact, this was one of the most common mammals of prehistoric North America. Another group of early canids was the borophagines, or "bone-crushing dogs," equipped with powerful jaws and teeth suitable for scavenging the carcasses of mammalian megafauna. The largest, most dangerous borophagines were the 100-pound Borophagus and the even bigger Epicyon; other genera included the earlier Tomarctus and Aelurodon, which were more reasonably sized. We can't say for sure, but there's some evidence that these bone-crushing dogs, which were also restricted to North America, hunted or scavenged in packs, like modern hyenas.
The First True Dogs:
Leptocyon, Eucyon, and the Dire Wolf
Here's where things get a bit confusing. Shortly after the appearance of Hesperocyon 40 million years ago, Leptocyon arrived on the scene - not a brother, but more like a second cousin once removed. Leptocyon was the first true canine - that is, it belonged to the caninae subfamily of the canidae family, but a small and unobtrusive one, not much bigger than Hesperocyon itself. The immediate descendant of Leptocyon, Eucyon, had the good fortune to live at a time when both Eurasia and South America were accessible from North America - the first via the Bering land bridge, and the second thanks to the uncovering of central America. In North America, about six million years ago, populations of Eucyon evolved into the first members of the modern dog genus Canis, which spread to these other continents. But the tale doesn't end there. Although canines including the first coyotes, continued to live in North America during the Pliocene epoch, the first plus-sized wolves evolved elsewhere, and "re-invaded" North America shortly before the ensuing Pleistocene, via that same Bering land bridge. The most famous of these canines was the Dire Wolf, Canis diris, which evolved from an "old world" wolf that colonized both North and South America, by the way, the Dire Wolf competed directly for prey with Smilodon, the "saber-toothed tiger." The end of the Pleistocene epoch witnessed the rise of human civilization around the world. As far as we can tell, the first domestication of the Gray Wolf occurred somewhere in Europe or Asia anywhere from 30,000 to 15,000 years ago. After 40 million years of evolution, the modern dog had finally made its debut!
THE DIRE WOLF
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The Dire Wolf Was a "Hypercarnivore"! The largest ancestral canine that ever lived, the Dire Wolf (Canis dirus) terrorized the plains of North America until the end of the last Ice Age, ten thousand years ago and lives on in both popular lore and pop culture - as witness its cameo role on the HBO series Game of Thrones. On the following slides, you will discover 10 facts that you may or may not, have known about this fearsome Pleistocene predator. The Dire Wolf occupied a side branch of the canine evolutionary tree; it wasn't directly ancestral to modern Dalmatians, Pomeranians and Labradoodles, but more of a great uncle a few times removed. Specifically, the Dire Wolf was a close relative of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), the species from which all modern dogs descend. The Gray Wolf crossed the Siberian land bridge from Asia about 250,000 years ago, by which time the Dire Wolf was already well entrenched in North America. The La Brea Tar Pits, in downtown Los Angeles, have yielded the skeletons of literally thousands of Dire Wolves--intermingled with the fossils of literally thousands of Saber-Tooth Tigers (genus Smilodon). Clearly, these two predators shared the same habitat, and hunted the same prey animals. They may even have stalked each other when extreme conditions left them no choice, a scenario explored in more detail in The Dire Wolf vs. the Saber-Tooth Tiger - Who Wins?
If you are a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones, you may have wondered about the provenance of those orphaned wolf cubs adopted by the ill-fated Stark children. They're Dire Wolves, which most inhabitants of the fictional continent of Westeros still believe are mythical, but have been rarely sighted and even domesticated in the north. Sadly, in terms of their survival, the Starks' Dire Wolves haven't fared much better than the Starks themselves as the series has progressed! Technically speaking, the Dire Wolf was "hypercarnivorous," which sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. What this mouthful of a word means is that the Dire Wolf's diet consisted of at least 70% meat, by this standard, most mammalian predators of the Cenozoic Era, including the Saber-Tooth Tiger, were hypercarnivores, and so are modern-day tabby cats. Secondarily, hypercarnivores were distinguished by their large, slicing canine teeth, which evolved to cut through the flesh of prey like a knife through butter. The Dire Wolf was 25% Bigger than the Biggest Modern Dogs. The Dire Wolf was a formidable predator, measuring almost five feet from head to tail and weighing in the vicinity of 150 to 200 pounds about 25 percent bigger than the biggest dog alive today - the American mastiff, and 25 percent heavier than the largest Gray Wolves. Male Dire Wolves were the same size as females, but some of them were equipped with larger and more menacing fangs, which presumably increased their attractiveness during mating season, not to mention their ability to bring home the prehistoric bacon).
The Dire Wolf Was a "Bone-Crushing" Canid. The Dire Wolf's teeth didn't only slice through the flesh of the average prehistoric horse or Pleistocene pachyderm - paleontologists speculate that Canis dirus may also have been a "bone-crushing" canid, extracting the maximum nutritional value from its meals by crushing its prey's bones and gobbling up the marrow inside. This would put the Dire Wolf closer to the mainstream of canine evolution - consider, for example, the famous bone-crushing dog ancestor Borophagus. The Dire Wolf Has Been Known by Various Names. The Dire Wolf has a complicated taxonomic history, not an unusual fate for an animal discovered in the 19th century, when less was known about prehistoric animals than is known today. Originally named by the famous paleontologist Joseph Leidy, in 1858, Canis dirus has variously been known as Canis ayersi, Canis indianensis and Canis mississippiensis, and was once designated as another genus altogether, Aenocyon. It was only in the 1980's that all these species and genera were re-attributed, for good, back to the easier-to-pronounce Canis dirus. The Dire Wolf Went Extinct at the End of the Last Ice Age! Like most other megafauna mammals of the late Pleistocene epoch, the Dire Wolf vanished shortly after the last Ice Age, most likely doomed by the disappearance of its accustomed prey, which either starved to death for lack of vegetation or was hunted to extinction by early humans. It's even possible that some brave Homo sapiens targeted the Dire Wolf directly, to eliminate an existential threat, though this scenario unfolds more often in Hollywood movies than it does in reputable research papers.
DOG BREEDS EVOLUTION:
MODERN vs ANCIENT
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Years of selective breeding by humans has resulted in the artificial "evolution" of dogs into many different types. Evolution of the Dog: ... Not only their behavior changed; domestic dogs are different in form from wolves, mainly smaller and with shorter muzzles and smaller teeth. Darwin was wrong about dogs.
The Dogs of All Nations
DOG BREED HISTORICAL PICTURES
133 PHOTO ALBUMS BY BREED
THE OLDEST DOG BREEDS
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In 1753, Carl Linnaeus listed among the types of quadrupeds familiar to him the Latin word for dog, canis. Among the species within this genus, Linnaeus listed the red fox (as Canis vulpes), wolves (Canis lupus), and the domestic dog (Canis canis).
Psychogenetic Tree Of Ancient Dog Breeds:
Afghan Hound (Afghanistan)
Akita Inu (Japan)
Alaskan Malamute (Alaska)
Basenji (DR Congo)
Chow Chow (China)
Lhasa Apso (Tibet)
Saluki (Fertile Crescent)
Shar Pei (China)
Shiba Inu (Japan)
Shih Tzu (China)
Siberian Husky (Russia)
DOG ORIGIN ANCESTORS
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Here's a list of the most notable prehistoric dogs and dog ancestors
Aelurodon - This "cat-toothed" dog behaved more like a hyena. Pronounced ay-LORE-oh-don. For a prehistoric dog, Aelurodon, Greek for "cat tooth", has been given a somewhat bizarre name. This "bone-crushing" canid was an immediate descendant of Tomarctus, and was one of a number of hyena-like proto-dogs that roamed North America during the Miocene epoch. There's evidence that the larger species of Aelurodon may have hunted or roamed the grassy plains in packs, either taking down diseased or aged prey or swarming around already-dead carcasses and cracking the bones with their powerful jaws and teeth. Habitat: Plains of North America. Historical Epoch: Middle-late Miocene (16-9 million years ago). Size and Weight: About five feet long and 50-75 pounds. Diet: Meat. Distinguishing Characteristics: Dog-like build, strong jaws and teeth.
Amphicyon - True to its nickname, Amphicyon, the "bear dog," looked like a small bear with the head of a dog, and it probably pursued a bear-like lifestyle as well, feeding opportunistically on meat, carrion, fish, fruit and plants. However, it was more ancestral to dogs than to bears! See an in-depth profile of Amphicyon
Borophagus - One of the biggest of the bone crushing hyaena-like canids. Borophagus Greek for "voracious eater", pronounced BORE-oh-FAY-gus. Borophagus was the last of a large, populous group of North American predatory mammals informally known as the "hyena dogs." Closely related to the slightly bigger Epicyon, this prehistoric dog or "canid," as it should technically be called made its living much like a modern hyena, scavenging already-dead carcasses rather than hunting live prey. Borophagus possessed an unusually big, muscular head with powerful jaws, and was probably the most accomplished bone-crusher of its canid line, its extinction two million years ago remains a bit of a mystery. By the way, the prehistoric dog formerly known as Osteoborus has now been assigned as a species of Borophagus. Habitat: Plains of North America. Historical Epoch: Miocene-Pleistocene (12-2 million years ago). Size and Weight: About five feet long and 100 pounds. Diet: Meat. Distinguishing Characteristics: Wolf-like body, large head with powerful jaws.
Cynodictis - This was once thought to be the first true dog. Until recently, it was widely believed that the late Eocene Cynodictis ("in-between dog) was the first true "canid," and thus lay at the root of 30 million years of dog evolution. Today, though, its relationship to modern dogs is subject to debate. See an in-depth profile of Cynodictis
Dire Wolf - A giant wolf of the Pleistocene epoch. One of the apex predators of Pleistocene North America, the Dire Wolf competed for prey with the Saber-Toothed Tiger, as evidenced by the fact that thousands of specimens of these predators have been dredged up from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.
Dusicyon - This "foolish dog" went extinct in the 19th century, pronounced DOO-sih-SIGH-on Not only was Dusicyon the only prehistoric dog to live on the Falkland Islands - off the coast of Argentina, but it was the only mammal, period - meaning it preyed not on cats, rats and pigs, but birds, insects, and possibly even shellfish that washed up along the shore, also known as the Warrah. Habitat: Falkland Islands. Historical Epoch: Pleistocene-Modern (2 million-100 years ago). Size and Weight: About three feet long and 25 pounds. Diet: Birds, insects and shellfish. Distinguishing Characteristics: Small size, strange diet. Dusicyon, also known as the Warrah, is one of the most fascinating and most obscure animals to have gone extinct in modern times, certainly not anywhere as well-known as the Dodo Bird. Not only was Dusicyon the only prehistoric dog to live on the Falkland Islands - a few hundred miles off the coast of Argentina, but it was the only mammal, period - meaning it preyed not on cats, rats or pigs, but birds, insects, and possibly even shellfish that washed up along the shore. Exactly how Dusicyon wound up on the Falklands is a bit of a mystery. The most likely scenario is that it hitched a ride with early human visitors from South America thousands of years ago. Dusicyon earned its amusing name - Greek for "foolish dog", because, like many animals restricted to island habitats, it didn't know enough to be afraid of the second wave of human settlers to the Falklands during the 17th century. The problem was, these settlers arrived with the intention of herding sheep, and thus felt compelled to hunt Dusicyon to extinction - the usual method: luring it near with a tasty piece of meat, and then clubbing it to death when it took the bait. The last Dusicyon individuals expired in 1876, only a few years after Charles Darwin had the opportunity to learn about - and be puzzled by their existence.
Epicyon - This prehistoric dog was built more like a big cat. Greek for "more than a dog", pronounced EPP-ih-SIGH-on. The largest species of Epicyon weighed in the neighborhood of 200 to 300 pounds - as much as, or more than, a full-grown human and possessed unusually powerful jaws and teeth, which made their heads look more like those of a big cat than a dog or wolf. Habitat: Plains of North America. Historical Epoch: Middle-Late Miocene (15-5 million years ago). Size and Weight: About five feet long and 200-300 pounds. Diet: Meat. Distinguishing Characteristics: Large size, quadrupedal posture, big-cat-like head. Possibly the largest prehistoric dog that ever lived, Epicyon was a true "canid," belonging to the same general family as wolves, hyenas and modern dogs and was thus a different beast altogether from the non-canid "creodont" mammals, typified by the giant Sarkastodon, that ruled the North American plains for millions of years before the Miocene epoch. The largest species of Epicyon weighed in the neighborhood of 200 to 300 pounds—as much as, or more than, a full-grown human and it possessed unusually powerful jaws and teeth, which made its head look more like that of a big cat than a dog or wolf. However, paleontologists don't know much about Epicyon's feeding habits: this megafauna mammal may have hunted alone or in packs, and it may even have subsisted exclusively on already-dead carcasses, like a modern hyena. Epicyon is known by three species, all of which were discovered in western North America in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. The lightest variant, Epicyon saevus, was named by the famous American paleontologist Joseph Leidy, and for a time was classified as a species of Aelurodon, adults only weighed about 100 pounds fully grown. E. haydeni was also named by Leidy, and has been synonymized not only with Aelurodon, but with the even more obscure Osteoborus and Tephrocyon as well - this was the largest Epicyon species, weighing more than 300 pounds. The most recent addition to the Epicyon family, E. aelurodontoides, was discovered in Kansas in 1999; you can tell by its species name that it was also close kin to Aelurodon!
Eucyon - The immediate predecessor of modern canines. Greek for "original dog", pronounced YOU-sigh-on. Habitat: Plains of North America. Historical Epoch: Late Miocene (10-5 million years ago). Size and Weight: About three feet long and 25 pounds. Diet: Meat. Distinguishing Characteristics: Medium size, enlarged sinuses in snout. To simplify matters just a bit, the late Miocene Eucyon was the last link in the chain of prehistoric dog evolution before the appearance of Canis, the single genus that encompasses all modern dogs and wolves. The three-foot-long Eucyon was itself descended from an earlier, smaller genus of dog ancestor, Leptocyon, and it was distinguished by the size of its frontal sinuses, an adaptation linked to its diverse diet. It's believed that the first species of Canis evolved from a species of Eucyon in late Miocene North America, about 5 or 6 million years ago, though Eucyon itself persisted for another few million years.
Hesperocyon - An early ancestor of the modern dog. Greek for "western dog", pronounced hess-per-OH-sie-on. Habitat: Plains of North America. Historical Epoch: Late Eocene (40-34 million years ago). Size and Weight: About three feet long and 10-20 pounds. Diet: Meat. Distinguishing Characteristics: Long, sleek body, short legs, dog-like ears. Dogs were only domesticated about 10,000 years ago, but their evolutionary history goes back way further than that as witness one of the earliest canines yet discovered, Hesperocyon, which lived in North America a whopping 40 million years ago, during the late Eocene epoch. As you might expect in such a distant ancestor, Hesperocyon didn't look much like any dog breed alive today, and was more reminiscent of a giant mongoose or weasel. However, this prehistoric dog did have the beginnings of specialized, dog-like, meat-shearing teeth, as well as noticeably dog-like ears. There's some speculation that Hesperocyon and other late Eocene dogs, may have led a meerkat-like existence in underground burrows, but the evidence for this is somewhat lacking.
Ictitherium - One of the first ground-dwelling hyenas. Greek for "marten mammal", pronounced ICK-tih-THEE-ree-um. Habitat: Plains of northern Africa and Eurasia. Historical Epoch: Middle Miocene-Early Pliocene (13-5 million years ago). Size and Weight: About four feet long and 25-50 pounds. Diet: Omnivorous. Distinguishing Characteristics: Jackal-like body, pointed snout. For all intents and purposes, Ictitherium marks the time when the first hyena-like carnivores ventured down from the trees and skittered across the vast plains of Africa and Eurasia - most of these early hunters lived in North America, but Ictitherium was a major exception. To judge by its teeth, the coyote-sized Ictitherium pursued an omnivorous diet, possibly including insects as well as small mammals and lizards, and the discovery of multiple remains jumbled together is a tantalizing hint that this predator may have hunted in packs. By the way, Ictitherium wasn't technically a prehistoric dog, but more of a distant cousin.
Leptocyon - A tiny, foxlike ancestor of the modern dog. Greek for "slender dog", pronounced LEP-toe-SIGH-on. Habitat: Woodlands of North America. Historical Epoch: Oligocene-Miocene (34-10 million years ago). Size and Weight: About two feet long and five pounds. Diet: Small animals and insects. Distinguishing Characteristics: Small size, fox-like appearance.Among the earliest ancestors of modern dogs, various species of Leptocyon roamed the plains and woodlands of North America for a whopping 25 million years, making this small, foxlike animal one of the most successful mammalian genera of all time. Unlike larger, "bone-crushing" canid cousins like Epicyon and Borophagus, Leptocyon subsisted on small, skittering, live prey, probably including lizards, birds, insects and other small mammals and one can imagine that the larger, hyena-like prehistoric dogs of the Miocene epoch themselves weren't averse to making an occasional snack out of Leptocyon!
Tomarctus - A bone-crushing dog of the Miocene epoch. Greek for "cut bear", pronounced tah-MARK-tuss. Habitat: Plains of North America. Historical Epoch: Middle Miocene (15 million years ago). Size and Weight: About four feet long and 30-40 pounds. Diet: Heat. Distinguishing Characteristics: Hyena-like appearance, powerful jaws. Like another carnivore of the Cenozoic Era, Cynodictis, Tomarctus has long been the "go-to" mammal for folks who want to identify the first true prehistoric dog. Unfortunately, recent analysis has shown that Tomarctus wasn't any more ancestral to modern dogs - at least in a direct sense than any of the other hyena-like mammals of the Eocene and Miocene epochs. We do know that this early "canid," which occupied a place on the evolutionary line that culminated in apex predators like Borophagus and Aelurodon, possessed powerful, bone-crushing jaws, and that it wasn't the only "hyena dog" of middle Miocene North America, but other than that much about Tomarctus remains a mystery.
Lycaon - Wild African hunting dog.
Miacis - Common ancestor of dog and bear - 40 million years ago.
Daphoenus - First bear dog.
DOG EVOLUTION FACTS
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1. Dogs evolved from wolves between 14,000 to 40,000 years ago.
This correlated with humans becoming more sedentary and not wandering as much for food. This meant more concentrated garbage from humans. Clever, friendly wolves saw this as an opportunity to have a reliable and safe food source.
2. We got more than we planned during domestication.
When wolves were selected, by nature and people, for their friendliness and interest in people, that also caused morphological and physiological changes such as curly tails, floppy ears and different coats.
3. Scientists believe dogs are the "Peter Pan" of the Canidae family.
The latest scientific theories explain domesticated dogs as wolves frozen as juveniles. This is what makes them less aggressive and playful compared to adult wolves. In order to study this theory, Hare said it's important to compare the development of dog and wolf pups, which is part of his current research.
4. Dog with specific skills come from hyper-focused breeding of wolves.
If you look at a dog breed, such as those with strong hunting instincts, those skills come from wolf hunting behavior. Dog breeding distilled one job for a breed based on human needs.
5. Dogs have evolved to digest human foods.
A study in Nature last year showed dogs are more like humans when it comes to their digestive enzymes. Dogs have enzymes that are better able to digest grains and carbohydrates compared to wolves.
6. Unlike wolves, dogs have trouble digesting rotting meat.
Dogs don't tolerate post-mortem bacteria as well as wolves, said Peggy Callahan, founder and executive director of the Wildlife Science Center. This concerns veterinarians as dogs owners move to raw food diets. It's not the raw meat that causes problems, she said, but the storage and management of the meat.
7. Howling was also a selective trait, but many dogs still have it.
Callahan said the pack of dogs that live at the center all howl, even if they aren't traditionally known as howling breeds.
8. Dogs hug you with their eyes.
Hare discussed recent research that showed an oxytocin loop between humans and dogs when they make eye contact. It's known as the "hug hormone" and is released when a human is bonding with a child, family member or friend. It feels good for dogs and humans to share that connection.
9. Not all "accidents" in the house are a housebreaking failure.
Callahan said when a dog urinates in the house, it's the ultimate form of submission. Wolves do the same behavior in front of dominant members of their pack too.
ORIGINS & EVOLUTION
OF THE DOMESTIC DOGS
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Dogs and canines were domesticated between 10,000 and 35,000 years ago through selective breeding, suggesting the earliest dogs presumably arose once we, humans, were still searching and gathering, way before the appearance of agriculture.
The prehistoric development of the wolf, from which the dog sprang, is typified chiefly by increase in running speed. While we are having an attempt here at climbing the domestic dog's evolution tree, it is important to remind our readers that the origin of the domestic dog, the Canis lupus familiaris, is not clear as per today. Mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA evidences are not confirming each other's conclusions:
Mitochondrial DNA indicates that the domestic dog diverged from a wolf-like canid either 27,000-40,000 years ago or 18,800-32,100 years age
Nuclear DNA points out a divergence that occurred approximately 11,000-16,000 years ago
Regardless of the exact timeline and dates, it seems like domestic dogs appeared simultaneously in various areas of the World and each from their own wolf-like ancestors that were genetically similar. This is why there are a few extinct animals that are highlighted here, in this article. These have been recognised as being part of the evolution of the domestic dog, in a way or another.
Before The Dog Appeared
The dog's ancestor Cynodictis of some 20 or 30 million years ago was a slender, short legged animal perhaps no larger than a mink. This animal began a line of evolution characterized by ever increasing leg length and the development of an almost unique ability to run down prey mile after mile and seize it. This led to important "social" developments, involving group hunting. Competition, in turn, stimulated the growth of intelligence, along lines quite different, for instance, from that of the solitary cat.
Cynodictis gave rise to two branches, one leading to the modern African Hunting Dog and one through Tomarctus to the wolves and domestic dogs. Tomarctus, of some 15 million years ago, differed but little physically from the wolves and wild dogs, but doubtless had far to go in intelligence. In modern times many widely different dogs have been bred, but the intelligence and adaptability of the dog remain distinctive.
According to this reprint from the National History Magazine (1939), the dogs has evolved from the now extinct Miacis, to the the Gray Wolf or Canis lupus. The Miacis was a relatively mammal with a weasel-like body, five toed legs, a very long thin tail and sharp pointy ears. Miacis is known as one of the first ancestors of the coyote and the great grandmother of all carnivores including hyenas, canines, felines, bears, and racoons. It appeared around 60-55 million years ago, at the late Paleocene era. Miacis lived in the North American and European continents just like coyotes today. Close to the Miacis are the Creodonts who show similar physical features and characteristics.
Cynodictis was one of the first members in the mammalian predators, then much better known as "bear dogs". This was a medium-sized long mammal, with a long tail and a fairly brushy coat. Over the millennia Cynodictis have then given rise to two branches, one in Eurasia and the other one in Africa. The Eurasian branch, called Tomarctus, is the progenitor wolves, dogs, and foxes originated from.
Daphoenus also belonged to the family of bear dogs, scientifically named as the Amphicyonidae family. These had the size of our coyotes today and shared important similarities with today's dogs and bears. Daphoenus could only perform short accelerations and sprints due to their short legs, thus Daphoenus were ambushing their preys and scavenging.
African wild dog or African painted dog are the two other names used to designate the Lycaon Pictus. Member of the biological family Canidae, this sub-saharan Canid differs from its cousin group, Canis, with a body designed for a predominantly hyper-carnivorous diet with fewer toes and dentition. Still with us today, the Lycaon is now an endangered species.
African Wild Dogs have disappeared from much of their former range. Their population is currently estimated at approximately 6,600 adults in 39 subpopulations, of which only 1,400 are mature individuals. Population size is continuing to decline as a result of ongoing habitat fragmentation, conflict with human activities, and infectious disease.
On Earth for around 6.83 millions of years, Tomarctus inhabited most of the North American continent. Tomarctus had long tails for balance, sharp claws to catch preys while hunting and an appearance resembling our dogs of today.
As the giant mustelids and bear dogs started to disappear, Tomarctus further radiated to initiate a line of dogs which filled the hyena like fruit eating and bone-crushing niches. We've been able to find specimens in California and up to the Montana and Canada line. We also found fossils as low as Panama.
Tomarctus had an incredibly strong bite force that exceeded what was required to kill a wild animal, the conclusion that streams is that Tomarctus diet was probably composed of a lot of scavenging. Carcasses and bones must have been a primary source of alimentation for Tomarctus as bone marrow by itself is one of the most nutritious food in the natural wild world. Plus, when kept in the bone under the right conditions, it can last for years after the death of the animal.
From the Greek "voracious eater", the Borophagus Genus is the last known of the line of bone crunching dogs, also called hyena-like dogs. Measuring around 80cm in length, they are smaller than their other bone-crushing ancestors but their jaws are way more developed so we think they relied on scavenging other predators' kills more than proactively hunting new preys. Because their meal was already eaten by the predators who actually killed the dead animal, they had to content themselves with the leftovers, usually the bones.
Historians have not yet understood why the Borophagus got extinct but the prehistoric dog formerly known as Osteoborus has now been assigned as a species of Borophagus. Based on Figure 141 of Wang et al. (1999), other species within this genus are:
Borophagus diversidens existed for 2.5 million years (synonymous with Felis hillianus, Hyaenognathus matthewi, Hyaenognathus pachyodon, Hyaenognathus solus, Porthocyon dubius)
Borophagus dudleyi existed for 2 million years
Borophagus hilli existed for 0.5 million years (synonymous with Osteoborus crassapineatus, Osteoborus progressus)
Borophagus littoralis existed for 3 million years (syn. Osteoborus diabloensis)
Borophagus orc existed for 2 million years
Borophagus parvus existed for 2 million years
Borophagus pugnator existed for 4 million years (synonymous with Osteoborus galushai)
Borophagus secundus existed for 4 million years (synonymous with Hyaenognathus cyonoides, Hyaenognathus direptor)
Hesperocyon, or the humble origins of the dog family, the Canidae, includes today such formidable predators as the wolf, the Asian dhole and the African wild dog, efficient group hunters of large prey. But over 36 million years ago, when the earliest fossil canids are recorded, dogs would make a rather modest sight. It was the late Eocene, and most mammals were creatures of moderate size there was no single animal on land to rival the body mass of a modern elephant, for instance. North America, the continent where the dog family had its origin, was largely covered by forests, and that would be the habitat where the earliest canid would thrive.
Paleontologists know that earliest dog as Hesperocyon, meaning Dog from the West, and the animal was about the size of a domestic cat. Its body proportions resemble those of a genet more than those of any dog. It had short ferelimbs, long hindlimbs and a long back and tail, proportions that suggest an agile animal well able to move quicky in the forest floor, jumping and veering around obstacles and climbing when neccesary.
Unlike most modern dogs, this was no ling-distance runner, and it didn't need to. Spending most of its time in a forested habitat it is likely that most of the resources it needed were relatively nearby. When it ventured into the grassy patches of its envornment, Hesperocyon had to be wary of more powerful creatures, such as the pig-like omnivore Archaeotherium
(The Grey Wolf)
The Grey Wolf is the one, the one that is the direct ancestor of our dogs, all of them, from teacup Chihuahuas to Great Danes, from Alaskan Malamutes to Arabian Salukis. All that happened because, around 33,000 years ago, men domesticated the tamest wolves by adopting their cubs into human tribes, fed them and bred them selectively. These wolves were raised amongst people, they were given tasks that would facilitate the tribe's life such as hunting, guarding, herding, etc. While transitioning and adapting to their entirely new environment, these wolves who are used by humans to be selectively bred start to genetically change which manipulates all their offsets. Over several generations, the original wild grey wolf has changed and a new species appeared that is genetically different from the founding stock that was adopted by the humans: the Canis familiaris.
Not considered wild anymore, the new species has been selected over time to be docile, tamed, and work-driven. From that point on, humans have started to use the same methods of selective breeding to develop desirable characteristics to get the dogs better at what a given tribe and environment need.Huskies' ancestors were bred to endure ice cold temperatures and long, draining, races in the snow. Whereas the Salukis, Arabian Greyhounds, were bred for speed so they could hunt quarry such as gazelles and hares. This is why, today, we have over 400 dog breeds that specialise at retrieving, pointing, hunting, pulling, swimming, pulling, searching, etc.
MODERN THEORY OF DOG EVOLUTION
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Dogs are NOT descended from modern wolves but split from common ancestor 34,000 years ago.
U.S. scientists believe the genetic overlap observed between some modern dogs and wolves is the result of interbreeding after dog domestication
University of Chicago researchers said their study reflects a more complicated history of how canines came to be domesticated
Dogs and wolves evolved from a common ancestor between 11,000 and 34,000 years ago, according to new research. U.S. scientists said that part of the genetic overlap observed between some modern dogs and wolves is the result of interbreeding after dog domestication and not a direct line of descent from one group of wolves. They believe their research reflects a more complicated history than the popular story that early farmers adopted a few docile, friendly wolves that later became our modern canine companions.
Instead, the earliest dogs may have first lived among hunter-gatherer societies and adapted to agricultural life later, according to the study which is published in the journal PLoS Genetics. Researchers from the University of Chicago said that dogs are more closely related to each other than to wolves, regardless of geographic origin as they do not descend from a single line of wolves.
John Novembre, associate professor in the Department of Human Genetics at the university, who is also the study's senior author, said: "Dog domestication is more complex than we originally thought. "In this analysis we didn't see clear evidence in favour of a multi-regional model, or a single origin from one of the living wolves that we sampled. It makes the field of dog domestication very intriguing going forward" he added.
The team of scientists sequenced the genomes of three grey wolves - one of which was from China, one from Croatia and another from Israel, to represent the three regions where dogs are believed to have originated. They produced genomes for two dog breeds: a basenji, which originates in central Africa and a dingo from Australia, as both areas that have been historically isolated from modern wolf populations. The researchers also sequenced the genome of a golden jackal to serve as an "outgroup" representing earlier genetic divergence.
Their analysis of the basenji and dingo genomes, plus a previously published boxer genome from Europe, showed that the dog breeds were most closely related to each other. Likewise, the three wolves from each geographic area were more closely related to each other than any of the dogs. Dr Novembre said the findings of the study tell a different story than he and his colleagues anticipated. Instead of all three dogs being closely related to one of the wolf lineages, or each dog being related to its closest geographic counterpart, they seem to have descended from an older, wolf-like ancestor common to both species. "One possibility is there may have been other wolf lineages that these dogs diverged from that then went extinct".
"So now when you ask which wolves are dogs most closely related to, it's none of these three because these are wolves that diverged in the recent past. It's something more ancient that isn't well represented by today's wolves", he added. The study shows how complex the early domestication of wolves was and Dr Novembre said his team is trying to collect every scrap of evidence to reconstruct what happened in the past. "We use genetics to reconstruct the history of population sizes, relationships among populations and the gene flow that occurred. So now we have a much more detailed picture than existed before, and it's a somewhat surprising picture" he said.
GENETIC TESTING PROVES DOG ANCESTORS FORMED A SPECIAL BOND WITH MAN DURING THE ICE AGE
Dogs were man's best friend as far back as the Ice Age and dogs and humans first bonded between 19,000 and 30,000 years ago, according to a study published in November. That was when wolves, ancestors of domestic dogs living today, were first tamed by ancient hunter gatherers, according to genetic evidence. Early tamed wolves may have been trained as hunting dogs or even protected their human masters from predators. The findings challenge a previous theory that dog domestication happened some 15,000 years ago in eastern Asia, after the introduction of agriculture. In reality, the history of the bond between dog and man appears to go back much further, to a time when fur-clad humans were living in caves and hunting woolly mammoths. Scientists used DNA analysis to establish what populations of wolves were most related to living dogs.
The team then compared corresponding genes in dogs and humans. They found both species underwent similar changes in genes responsible for digestion and metabolism, such as genes that code for cholesterol transport. Those changes could be due to a dramatic change in the proportion of animal versus plant-based foods that occurred in both at around the same time, the researchers said.
The team also found co-evolution in several brain processes: for instance, in genes that affect the processing of the brain chemical serotonin. In humans, variations in these genes affect levels of aggression. This shared genetic trajectory might explain why Fluffy can be helped by antidepressant drugs, the authors hypothesize.
FIVE CRITICAL STEPS
OF DOG EVOLUTION
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The history of our canine companions is a quite lengthy one. In fact, researchers and scientists have found that their appearance predates that of humans by a wide margin. While theories of just how man and dog came together may differ, as do theories concerning the specific ancestors of the domesticated dog that we are so familiar with, the fact remains that the evolution of the dog, as well as that of its relationship to humans, stretches back deep into time and history.
Here are 5 critical steps of dog evolution:
1. The split between dog-like creatures and cat-like creatures came early.
During the time period, approximately 42 million years ago, in which the prehistoric mammal group Miacidae gave rise to Carnivora: meat-eating mammals, differentiation between the prototypes of the dogs and cats we know today began to occur. While the evolution of the Carnivora-marking carnassial teeth, which allow for the eating of meat with their powerful scissor-like action, took place in the prehistoric mammal group Miacidae, it was just into the rise of the meat-eating mammals that the inner ear differences, skull shape and size, and other factors began to separate those animals into caniforms and feliforms.
2. The evolution of longer legs increased prey options.
Not only did these longer legs allow for the running down of prey, but they also allowed the prehistoric canid type mammal to become differentiated sufficiently from the other meat-eating mammals that arose out of the Miacidae, from the sub family called Miacis, to form the first and oldest group of the Carnivora. This most ancient form of the canid, the ancestor of the Canidae family, is known as the Hesperocyon gregarius and has been dated by scientists to about 37 million years ago. These canids were small creatures, similar in size to a small fox. Gradually these longer legs, an improvement over the smaller legs of the past that placed the body much closer to the ground, elongated further. This expanded the range of prey they could successfully hunt. and moving slowly towards another level of dog like development.
3. The development of bone crushing teeth came with an increase in size and muscle.
The evolution of the jaw and teeth in this manner, allowing for the crushing of bones to get at the nutrients of the marrow, was another major step in the development of the dog as a separate species significantly different from other meat-eating mammals. This particular bit of evolution is most notable in the Borophaginae, the second stage, in a sense, of the canid. These canids were bigger and burlier than their Hesperocyon predecessors, and had the muscular development and size to put those bone crushing teeth to work on the larger prey. They could bring down such prey on the run, using pure power to muscle that prey down to the ground for the kill.
4. Caninae was the last of the ancients.
Of the three subgroups within the lineage descending from that first canid type mammal, only the Caninae survived. The last of the Hesperocyon and Borophaginae canids are thought to have faded away about 2.5 to 3 million years ago, leaving just the Caninaea, canid type that had evolved to such a degree that it would easily be recognized as a dog. It is from this line of prehistoric dogs that the Canidae line that we see today evolved. From this comparatively modern line of canid came wolves, coyotes, foxes, and dogs.
5. Man and dog come together.
While there is academic dispute over whether or not the domesticated dog of today is descended from the wolf or from a species of Canidae all its own, the general scenario of how man and dog came together is fairly well agreed upon aside from a bit of theoretical disagreement on exactly who domesticated whom, as well as the the variety of effects that this coming together had upon the evolution of the dog. Dogs probably started their interactions with humans as scavengers, hanging around camps, eating leftovers and leavings. Puppy captures most likely set the stage for real domestication. One of the most notable changes that came about from this union – a feature that is not seen in wolves today is the ability of dogs to understand, or read, human signs and behaviors, such as changes in tone or voice or pointing. Another highly significant evolutionary change is the broad range of dog breeds that have arisen from human breeding efforts to create dogs for specific purposes, resulting in tiny dogs that can sit in the palm of a man's hand, to dogs well over 200 pounds in weight.
The evolution of the dog has been a process that has taken many millions of years. Yet, in light of the many tasks and the continuing creation of specific breeds, it seems as though the evolution of this magnificent creature still continues. Although in many countries, domesticated dogs still do labor at an assortment of primarily physical tasks, the number of tasks that working dogs perform that rely on intellectual ability, as opposed to simple strength and endurance, has increased. Service dogs, for example, are amazing in their abilities, both in what they can do and in how well they can read the needs of those that they serve. However, working dogs are, in most nations, in the minority, with the average dog being a beloved companion above all else.
DOG LOOK EVOLUTION
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How Dogs Came To Look
The Way They Do Nowadays:
DOG AND WOLF HISTORY:
EVOLUTION & DOMESTICATION
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Wolves are stunning animals which has been represented through our history, art, and culture for centuries. The origin of the domestic dog is not clear. Where did dogs come from? That simple question is the subject of a scientific debate right now. A new study suggests dogs and wolves evolved from a common ancestor between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago.
In May, a team of scientists published a study pointing to East Asia as the place where dogs evolved from wolves. Now, another group of researchers has announced that dogs evolved several thousand miles to the west, in Europe. This controversy is intriguing even if you are not a dog lover. Accounting for gene flow between dogs and wolves after domestication was a crucial step in the analyses.
Domestication is the process by which animals adapt to life with humans. This reflects a more complicated history than the popular story that early farmers adopted a few docile, friendly wolves that later became our beloved, modern-day companions.
Instead, the earliest dogs may have first lived among hunter-gatherer societies and adapted to agricultural life later. Analysis of the basenji and dingo genomes, plus a previously published boxer genome from Europe, showed that the dog breeds were most closely related to each other.
Likewise, the three wolves from each geographic area were more closely related to each other than any of the dogs. What this means is that Huskies have more in common, genetically speaking, with Boxers than with grey wolves, even though they may look more similar to wolves and have lived in the same geographic area. This means that dogs and wolves are farther removed from each other than humans have historically presumed. It illuminates the challenges scientists face as they excavate the history of any species from its DNA.
Scientists have long agreed that the closest living relatives of dogs are wolves, their link confirmed by both anatomy and DNA. If this were true, then the first dogs would have become domesticated not by farmers, but by Chinese hunter-gatherers more than 20,000 years before the dawn of agriculture.
Somewhere, at some point, some wolves became domesticated. They evolved not only a different body shape, but also a different behavior. Instead of traveling in a pack to hunt down prey, dogs began lingering around humans. Eventually, those humans bred them into their many forms, from shar-peis to Newfoundlands. The scientists did not find that living dogs were closely related to wolves from the Middle East or China. Instead, their closest relatives were ancient dogs and wolves from Europe.
A few fossils supply some tantalizing clues to that transformation. Dating back as far as 36,000 years, they look like wolfish dogs or doggish wolves. The oldest of these fossils have mostly turned up in Europe. In the 1990s, scientists started using new techniques to explore the origin of dogs. They sequenced bits of DNA from living dog breeds and wolves from various parts of the world to see how they were related. And the DNA told a different story than the bones.
In fact, it told different stories. A dog may have wolflike DNA because it is a dog-wolf hybrid. The Domestic dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals and coyote belong to the same Canidae family and they share more similar characteristics than differences. Canids evolution history started around 50 million years ago that's mainly categorised into two different categories - Cat like (feliforms) and Dog like (Coliforms).
"WOLF vs COYOTE:
DIFFERENCES & SIMILARITY" PDF
The dog and the wolf are actually the same species. Their physical appearance is similar but their instincts, disposition and temperament vary widely. The gray wolf, or simply the wolf is the largest wild member of the Canidae family. Dogs are commonly seen in any place that is inhabited by people.
Although wolves and doges contain similarities in some aspects, but one came across more variations between the two. Wolf is basically categorized only as a wild animal as compared to the dog which is well known house Pet, for the reason that dog was domesticated so they would not act like wolf. Wolves being wild animals are not suited to live with people or to make a close relation like dogs. Unlike wolves, dogs have demonstrated themselves as a good companion and good Pet.
Wolves, however, are stronger with higher levels of energy and stamina. Wolf instincts and temperament differ quite dramatically as well.Wolves are stubborn, erratic, difficult to train, and a danger to children and other small animals. These qualities make them a poor choice to keep as a guard dog or household pet. As similar to wolves other members are also not domesticated and not advised to keep as a pet. But the dogs are domesticated and are great companions, they are right as pets at home.
According to Biological classifications, Zoologist and Taxonomist include the wolves in family "Canis Lupus" whereas dogs are placed in family "Canis familiaris" of Kingdom Animalia. In addition, there is a one of the most visible difference amongst both is a variation in physical appearance and structure. The wolf occupies a large body dissimilar to dog that is smaller in size than wolf. Muzzle of the wolf is also founded to be longer as compared to most of dogs. When it comes to compare their legs, the wolf comes with longer legs, larger feet and a wider cranium than the dog.
Wolves are well recognized hunters but a dog lacks this specialty because of its domestication. Wolves are much physically powerful than dogs. Despite the fact that wolves and dogs have the equivalent number of teeth, the differentiation is definite. The teeth of wolves are adapted for hunt. Unlike the dogs, the wolves have stronger molars, which help it to crush largest bones. Wolves include specific teeth used for holding onto their prey. Dogs can feed on dog food/kibble while wolves are carnivores and they need raw meat.
Wolf is considered to be cleverer than the dog and wolves are more conscious of their surroundings than the dogs. Dog barks while a wolf only howl, however dogs easily learns to howl and wolf can only make a sharp muffled sounding bark but wolves rarely do this. Wolves always love to be in crowd, even if it is a group of two or more. But dogs do not used to live in groups and they time and time again are seen combating one another.
When it comes to their sexual behaviours, the female dogs come into "heating period" twice a year while female wolves get into "season" only once a year. It has been noticed that only the alpha female wolf or head female wolf is permitted reproduction in wolf habitation. Some major differences can also be seen in skeletal structures of the two, asa wolf has longer legs with large feet and wider skull and narrow chest while a number of the dog's species don't possess this type of skeleton.
Wolf has an edge of running and moving fast with the help of their particular skeletal structure. During trotting wolf's back legs move backward and forward in the same line like its front legs, on the other hand dog places its back legs between its front legs during walking or running hence making the slow motion of dog as compared to faster wolf.
Dog is basically a domestic pet and wolf is a wild animal.
Wolf and dogs comparatively belongs to different families in Kingdom Animalia.
Intellect level of wolf is higher than dog.
Mostly dogs found to quarrel each other as compared to wolf incase their survival depends on living in packs.
Dog barks while wolf seldom and wolf paces, a dog trots.
A wolf is a good hunter where as a dog has lost this aptitude due to its domestication.
All members of Canidae Family are known as CANIDs
Canidae family includes a diverse group of 34 species
The biggest member of Canidae family is Gray Wolf
Smallest member of the family is Fennec Fox
Longest Member of Family is Maned Wolf
The shortest and slowest member of this family is Bush Dog.
Approx 3/4th member of this family are identified as endangered.
From the start dog-genome researchers realized that along the way they might also discover a lot about the history of dogs and their innate behavior - the sorts of things that people who like dogs have always wondered about. No one expects to find a gene for loyalty, but maybe there are genes for herding behavior or retrieving or guarding. And although there is almost certainly not agene, or even a handful of genes, that accounts for the transformation from the wolf to the dog, a study of the population genetics of the two species could potentially speak volumes about the origin and history of domestication.
THE standard myth about the origin of the dog is that man found him to be a useful companion and so took him in. Dogs were sentinels or shepherds or they helped in the hunt. The oldest archaeological evidence of dogs with a morphology distinct from that of wolves is from about 12,000 years ago in the Middle East, suggesting an evolution coinciding with the rise of the first agricultural settlements and permanent villages, and pre-dating the domestication of other animals, including sheep and goats, by a few thousand years.
The view that dogs came along at about the same time as human beings settled down is so widespread and so often repeated in standard texts that it is more than a bit surprising to find genetic evidence flatly contradicting it. The evolutionary chronometer is a measure of ancient origins -- it cannot pick up divergence into separate breeding lines that has occurred in the past few hundred years. The most striking discovery Wayne's team made was that there is almost no correlation between a dog's breed and the mitochondrial DNA sequences it carries.
The point is, then, that if dogs were indeed domesticated more than 100,000 years ago, as Wayne's data suggest, there wasn't much selective breeding going on for most of those 100,000 years. Even if the step from wolf to dog was a small one, it apparently didn't happen very often. The evolutionarily correct way to state all this is that human beings, with their campfires and garbage heaps and hunting practices, but above all with their social interactions, represented an ecological niche ripe for exploitation by wolves.
THE WOLF & THE DOG
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WOLF & DOG PHYLOGENY
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Phylogenetic tree of the Canid species:
Figure 1 of the 2011 PLoS Genetics paper clusters 509 dogs based on their genetic similarity. In this figure, dogs that are genetically similar to each other are grouped together and, not surprisingly, this grouping corresponds quite well with breed (dogs of the same breed are grouped together).
Some breeds do cluster together (for instance, all the retrievers are clustered together, as are the all the spaniels), but the relatively long branches connecting dogs within the same breed and the relatively short branches connecting the different breeds together is consistent with breeds which originated from a common dog gene pool long ago and have remained quite distinct.
Evolution of Wolf:
From ancestral wolf to modern dog:
Simplified ancestral tree of modern dogs:
GENEALOGY OF DOGS
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7 breeds with the oldest genetic patterns.
DOG vs HUMAN EVOLUTION
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Man's relationship with his best friend has lasted 32,000 years, with cave dwelling hunter gatherers using dogs to carry supplies so that they could save their energy for hunting. The bond between man and dog arose at around the time Neanderthals began to surrender their dominance over Europe, which had lasted for the previous 250,000 years. Now experts have suggested the domestication of dogs, and the benefit it gave to their masters, could have played a key rule in the demise of the Neanderthals and supremacy of humans.
Excavations of early human dwellings suggest the animals were revered by our ancestors, with their teeth adorning jewellery and their images occasionally painted on walls, the Daily Mail reported. Dogs, which at the time would have been at least the size of German Shepherds, could have helped humans by transporting meat and other supplies from one place to another, removing an energy burden from their masters which would have given them an advantage when hunting.
The relationship would have been mutually beneficial because in return for becoming a tool for humans, the animals would have received food, warmth from fires and companionship. Pat Shipman, an anthropologist at Penn State university, said:
"Animals were not incidental to our evolution into Homo sapiens - They were essential to it.
They are what made us human."
MASTERS of DISASTER
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I just finished reading a fascinating book called "What's a Dog For? The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend" by John Homans. Homans examines the dog's role in human society throughout history. One of the things Homans writes about is how humans have changed dogs through the ages. And that opened up a big can of worms in my head, where the soil is fertile. Left to their own devices, a wild canine is a wild canine. A wolf is a wolf. Although size and color vary, they all look and act pretty much alike. The same goes for other wild canids, such as foxes, dingoes and coyotes.
I'm already a fence-sitter about breeding, and whether or not there is such a thing as a "responsible breeder" when 4 million animals are dying in U.S. shelters every year. Something about this book got me thinking about breeding in a wholly different and harsh light. Dog breeders may want to click out of here about now, because you may find the following deeply offensive.
Out of all the animals that humans have domesticated, only one has been genetically altered to produce over 600 registered variations. One animal, molded by human hands and whims as though it were a piece of clay.
The domestic dog is another story altogether. How is it possible that Irish Wolfhounds, Welsh Corgis, Pugs and Poodles and 596 other registered dog breeds have all descended from wolves? The answer is through selective breeding, or canine eugenics, if you will. Eugenics advocates the improvement of hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of more desired people and traits. I think that's a pretty good summary of dog breeding, too. Dogs are selected by their desired traits, both physical and behavioral, and mated to produce superior offspring. Through selective breeding, humans have engineered dogs for all sorts of tasks; others just for a specific appearance; others for a specific temperament. But it's sort of an exercise in hubris, if you think about it - the way humans have molded dogs to their desires. And in a lot of cases, it's gone really, really, wrong.
It's not to say that there aren't a lot of remarkable breeds out there as a result of all that genetic monkeying. But it hasn't been that great for the dogs. Genetic inbreeding due to lack of diversity in many purebred dogs has been an absolute disaster.
Why, for instance, is a German Shepherd's sloped hips a desirable trait - when shaping the shepherd has caused the breed to be plagued by rampant hip dysplasia?
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred to have a small round head, to neotenize her appearance and make her more adorable. But shaping the Cavalier has caused a widespread instance of Syringomyelia. (SM) is a disorder of the brain and spinal cord, (the skull is too small for the brain) which may cause severe head and neck pain and possible paralysis for the breed.
Pugs have suffered a similar fate with their neotenized pushed in faces and bug eyes - changes which have made the breed susceptible to a myriad of eye problems and eventual blindness. Perhaps it's we who are blind. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and every breed has its enthusiasts. There will always be people who want purebreds, though that moniker itself is a little laughable. Each breed got their start by mixing a multitude of others, selecting for specific traits - making them perhaps the biggest mutts ever.
Lately, I've been wondering what ever gave humans the idea that they could, or should, be dog shapers at all. What is our moral imperative? How can we as animal guardians, in good conscience, endorse the continued practice of breeding when the animals being born suffer imperfections as a result of our interference?
What is a dog for?
"What's a Dog For?"
The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend" - by John Homans.
100 YEARS OF BREED "IMPROVEMENT"
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NIH Dog Genome Project
Different herding dogs use very different strategies to bring their flocks to heel, so in some ways, the phylogenetic data confirmed what many dog experts had previously suspected, the researchers noted. What that also tells us is that herding dogs were developed not from a singular founder but in several different places and probably different times.
This diagram representing the genetic analysis of dog breeds reveals how past migrations led to the mixing of multiple breeds.
For the sake of honest disclosure, I will admit to owning "purebreds" the "pureness" of purebreeds is a discussion for another time. All the dogs I've had since childhood had a few things in common, they were friendly, prey driven, ball-crazy, intense, motivated, athletic - crazy dogs are easier to train, and none had intentionally bred defects. I would never buy or adopt a dog whose breed characteristics exacted a health burden.(Asher 2009). That just incentivizes people to breed more of these intentionally unhealthy animals.
The dogs on the left are from the 1915 book, "Breeds of All Nations" by W.E. Mason. The examples on the right are modern examples from multiple sources. To be able to make an honest comparison, I've chosen pictures with similar poses and in a couple of cases flipped the picture to get them both aligned in the same direction. I had to skip some breeds I wanted to include because of the lack of detail in the older photographs.
It seems incredible that at one time the Bull Terrier was a handsome, athletic dog. Somewhere along its journey to a mutated skull and thick abdomen the bull terrier also picked up a number of other maladies like supernumerary teeth and compulsive tail-chasing.
The Basset Hound has gotten lower, has suffered changes to its rear leg structure, has excessive skin, vertebra problems, droopy eyes prone to entropion and ectropion and excessively large ears.
A shorter face means a host of problems. The modern Boxer not only has a shorter face but the muzzle is slightly upturned. The boxer like all bracecyphalic dogs, has difficulty controlling its temperature in hot weather, the inability to shed heat places limits on physical performance. It also has one of the highest cancer rates.
The English bulldog has come to symbolize all that is wrong with the dog fancy and not without good reason; they suffer from almost every possible disease. A 2004 survey by the Kennel Club found that they die at the median age of 6.25 years (n=180). There really is no such thing as a healthy bulldog. The bulldog's monstrous proportions make them virtually incapable of mating or birthing without medical intervention.
The Dachshund used to have functional legs and necks that made sense for their size. Backs and necks have gotten longer, chest jutted forward and legs have shrunk to such proportions that there is barely any clearance between the chest and floor. The dachschund has the highest risk of any breed for intervertebral disc disease which can result in paralysis; they are also prone to achondroplastic related pathologies, PRA and problems with their legs.
The German Shepherd Dog is also a breed that is routinely mentioned when people talk about ruined breeds; maybe because they used to be awesome. In Dogs of All Nations, the GSD is described as a medium-sized dog (25 kg /55 lb), this is a far cry from the angulated, barrel-chested, sloping back, ataxic, 85-pounders (38 kg) we are used to seeing in the conformation ring. There was a time when the GSD could clear a 2.5 meter (8.5 ft) wall; that time is long gone.
The Pug is another extreme brachycephalic breed and it has all the problems associated with that trait: high blood pressure, heart problems, low oxygenation, difficulty breathing, tendency to overheat, dentition problems, and skin fold dermatitis. The highly desirable double-curl tail is actually a genetic defect, in more serious forms it leads to paralysis.
Once a noble working dog, the modern St. Bernard has been oversized, had its faced squished in, and bred for abundant skin. You will not see this type of dog working, they can't handle it as they quickly overheat. The diseases include entropion, ectropion, Stockard's paralysis, hemophilia, osteosarcoma, aphakia, fibrinogen deficiency.
It is unrealistic to expect any population to be free of genetic diseases but show breeders have intentionally selected for traits which result in diseases. Conformation breeders claim they are improving the breed and yet they are often the cause of these problems. If "improvement" in looks imposes a health burden then it is not a breed improvement.
No dog breed has ever been improved by the capricious and arbitrary decision that a shorter/longer/flatter/bigger/smaller/curlier "whatever" is better. Condemning a dog to a lifetime of suffering for the sake of looks is not an improvement - it is a great torture!
ANCIENT DOGS GALLERY
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