Despite their incredible beauty and obvious similarities to our domestic companions, just about everyone knows that wolves are not to be messed with in any way.
But in 2003, Alaskan wildlife photographer Nick Jans and his labrador encountered a wolf in their backyard – and began a relationship that would defy logic and transform an entire community.
Jans was on the back porch of his Juneau home with his dog when a wild wolf appeared. With all the excitement, his dog slipped away, racing out to meet the stranger.
Nick was stunned to see the two start to play together. He managed to capture this photo of them during the encounter.
The wolf stayed in the area, and in the years since, Nick has devoted much of his time to documenting him, naming him Romeo.
Romeo became a Juneau fixture, known for playing with local dogs at nearby Mendenhall Glacier Park.
Residents were unsure at first, but they soon realized that Romeo just wanted to play.
Romeo didn’t just play with other dogs. He played with humans, too. “The wolf would bring out toys that he’d stashed,” Nick said in an interview. “One was a Styrofoam float. Romeo would pick it up and bring it to [my friend] Harry to throw. He clearly understood the same sort of behaviors that we see in dogs.”
“The amazing thing was Romeo’s understanding. It wasn’t just our understanding and tolerance. It was the combination of his and ours and the dogs’. We were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did.”
Romeo remained around the outskirts of Juneau for six years, becoming an ambassador to the wild and a powerful symbol in the community.
After Romeo’s passing in 2010, the residents of Juneau held a memorial for the wolf and had this special plaque made in his honor.
Klas Stolpe/Juneau Empire
It’s so inspiring to see three different species learn to live peacefully together in harmony. It just goes to show how wonderful the world can be.
Share this amazing story with your friends, and check out Nick’s account of this unbelievable tale, A Wolf Named Romeo.
From Inquisitr August 19, 2015
Nature has been most helpful to scientists aiming to study climate change, and thus, changes to the planet are very well documented. It has long been thought by scientists though that while herbivores adapted to the change in climatic conditions, carnivores did not. The recent findings of a study regarding the evolution of dogs has, however, disabused us of that notion.
On Tuesday, Nature Communications released a study by a group of scientists that analyzed North American wolves and fossils that were as old as 40 million years. It was found that these prehistoric dogs had an evolutionary path that was directly linked to climate change. A lot of the main evolution points of these animals occurred in tandem with major shifts in the climate.
The North America known today is very different from 40 million years ago. Back then, the area was a warm woodland. Canine ancestors living in that North America were small animals and bore more of a resemblance to a mongoose. Native dogs 40 million years ago had forelimbs that were not suited to running and instead relied on ambush methods. After a few million more years, though, the forests thinned and gave way to grasslands as the climate became cooler and drier. Herbivores evolved right along with the times, and long-legged animals like the bison and deer proliferated. The prehistoric dogs also were found to evolve at this time from their smaller counterparts.
Now that there was enough room to run, and less possibility of springing from dense bushes to trap prey, predators adapted also. Upon examination of the over 32 species of fossils, it was determined that the dog’s elbow joints and forelegs evolved to facilitate long-distance running, offering more support and less flexibility. Their teeth became more durable as well, which is speculated to have made it easier to deal with dry raw hides or perhaps the grit of the high plains mixed in with their meat. The dogs evolved from ambushers to the likes of predators like foxes and coyotes, and eventually into wolves, who use more pursuit then pounce methods. These species are so closely linked in the evolution gene pool that modern day scientists still make surprising discoveries.
Christine Janis, who is a co-author of the study and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, said that this study may have a broader impact than on dogs alone.
“It’s reinforcing the idea that predators may be as directly sensitive to climate and habitat as herbivores.”
Our modern day domesticated dogs do not have the need to hunt for their own food, and thus, it is arguable if our current climate change will have much of an impact on them. However, these human-wrought climate shifts may still lead to a change in the physiology of predators.
In inarguable fact, though, is that the study has proven that climate change has had a dramatic impact on both predators and their prey.
[Photos Courtesy of Discovery News and Mauricio Anton / Brown University]
Re-blogged from The Origin of The Dog | Doglistener:
How dogs were domesticated: Where Do Our Dogs Originate From?
There are many thoughts and hypotheses, but in reality, we do not have a truly accurate time-frame or location regarding the exact origins of the dog or its domestication history.
We do know that its closest ancestor is the wolf, taxonomically it forms part of the group of animals called Canidae, these include wolves, jackals, coyotes, dingoes, and foxes.
It is now widely accepted that the modern dog has wolf like traits and is almost certainly derived from wolf stock.
Today’s domesticated dog is probably a mutated form of the Middle Eastern or East Asian or Siberian wolf or dog mutation.
Possibly the latter because there is greater genetic diversity, often a sign of greater antiquity in Asian or Siberian dogs than in European dogs.
Archaeological evidence points to the domestication of the dog in a time-period some 12000 to 15000 years ago, when we started creating permanent settlements.
This was towards the end of the Mesolithic period and the start of the Neolithic. Some of the earliest of these settlements are to be found in the fertile area now known as Northern Israel.
In These Natufian villages is where modern dog may have originally surfaced.
This does not mean there were no dogs around before that time. Recent research published in 2013 evaluates the relationship of a 33,000 year old Siberian fossil to modern dogs and wolves based on DNA sequence.
The researchers found that this fossil, named the ‘Altai dog’ after the mountains where it was recovered, is more closely related to modern dogs and prehistoric canids found on the American continents than it is to wolves.
Archaeologists have also discovered remains of a burial site at a Natufian village called Ain Mallaha, in which an old man and a young pup are buried together; the man,s left hand is cradling the dog.
The puppy three to four months old was probably killed to give the man company and companionship on his journey to the afterlife. What is so important about this find is that it is the earliest chronological evidence pointing to domestication. And suggests that humans had starting accepting dogs not just as pariahs and vermin, but as companions and trusted pets.
The mental picture of the noble savage striding across the landscape his stone axe and spear at the ready, his faithful wolf-dog padding along next to him is a compelling vision, we could surmise that he had killed the adult wolf and located the den where the wolf cubs lay. Taking pity on them, he then took them back to his camp. Then through his ministrations and love they became domesticated becoming the forerunners of today’s modern canines. This fanciful idea is somewhat wide of the mark in the reality stakes.
In essence, you cannot domesticate a wolf. We can to some extent tame it to such a degree that it will accept human contact, but you will never domesticate it. To tame a wolf you need to hand rear it. You would need to start this before the cub was 8 days old, prior to the eyes opening, remember he was born deaf and blind and unable to smell until two weeks old, it takes some time for these senses to develop. For instance full eyesight does not develop until six weeks. Though they can see, but without full focus before that date.
This would build an olfactory and tactile map of its surroundings and the trainer aiding the bonding process by handling. They come to accept our smell and touch far more readily.
You would need to stay with that wolf 24 hours of the day until it was at least 16 weeks old, then if you had done everything right it may just accept some human contact.
If that wolf then bred with another tame or wild wolf, the pups/cubs would be born wild, in other words the hand rearing would have to continue all over again. That begs the question where did dogs come from and how did they become domesticated, if we cannot domesticate today’s wolf with all our supposed scientific mastery and conditioning, how did it happen?
Many including myself are of the opinion that they effectively domesticated themselves. They may have taken advantage of an ecological niche and mutated from their wolf or early dog cousins to fill that niche.
The trigger was our appearance as either Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon man. This may have happened according to recent scientific studies some 36,000 years ago. Evidence shows that both were alive at that time
However the move from early stone age nomadic hunter/gatherer, when as mentioned before we started inhabiting permanent settlements and becoming hunter/farmers.
This could have been that change that stimulated the rapid mutation into full domestication, rather than the wild dog like state that preceded this.
It would appear highly coincidental, that when we started to cultivate crops and domesticate animals, which in turn required permanent or semi permanent settlements.
That was when these animals suddenly appeared. The drawings of animals in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave in France show no images of dogs, these paintings were made approximately 31,000 years ago; others cave drawings of less that 31000 years also do not depict any doglike creatures.
Though recent archaeological findings and DNA suggest ancient dogs from 36,000 years ago.
Wolves have an almost pathological fear of man. You cannot blame them; we have persecuted these noble animals since time immemorial. We have hunted them for their pelts and their meat and have something of a love hate relationship with them. Just look at the bogey man stories of the werewolf that have been passed down over the centuries.
We are fearful of these creatures and rightly so, they can be extremely dangerous, wolves and wolf hybrids do not make good pets, they are unpredictable and immensely powerful. It is illegal in the UK to own or keep a wolf or wolf hybrid without a wild animal license.
The nearest we can get to a wolf is called the Utonagan Pronounced Yewton-Argan two words, which started as a cross between German Shepherds, Huskies, Eskimo Dogs and Malamutes plus a few other odds and ends thrown in . They are stunningly beautiful and look wolf-like, fortunately they do not act like wolves though the ones I have treat have been difficult to handle.
Given the pathological fear wolves have of humans it is quite likely that the incidence and appearance of dogs at the time of our settlements may well have been caused by an abundance of freely available food.
Other than sex/reproduction, food is very high on the list of vital resources and we are a constant source of that.
These Stone Age dog/wolf mutants must have thought Christmas had come all at once, a steady and constant stream of sustenance without having to hunt for it.
This may have been the key for some of these wolves to lose their fear of man.
Dogs like faeces particularly human ones; it is apparently a probiotic and a valuable source of proteins.
In parts of the Indian subcontinent you can see village dogs following naked children about waiting for them to defecate so they can claim there prize.
In some areas of Africa, when a baby is born, they present it with a puppy as a botty-wiper. To prehistoric dogs our middens, latrines and village dumps must have appeared like manna from heaven.
It was at this time that they must have started to lose the full motor responses to hunt to survive, and started to have the truncated prey drive.
Without getting too technical the wolf has a hunting repertoire based on motor patterns in the brain, which look like this: orient>eye>stalk>chase>grab>bite>kill-bite>dissect>consume.
Where the pointer has motor patterns like this: Orient>EYE-stalk> Grab-bite> consume. Note the very shortened pattern with essential parts missing and the capitalised EYE.
In a wolf pack, there is a basic need for some members to locate the prey, some to drive the prey, others to circle and harass, and still others to lie in wait and ambush.
Others would stay behind to feed and guard the young. It is only when you have this combination of emotional types that the pack (and the hunt) succeeds.
Our modern working dogs are the result of genetic engineering by our forbears, they bred for certain traits, enhancing those traits by breeding like with like.
No one will argue that the HPRs, Retrievers, Spaniels, Collies, Hounds, and Long Dogs have sometimes quite different skills, Take the Bloodhound, that is the tracking orient part of the equation, The Collie is the cutting out the prey from the herd. The Springer the orient chase grab, but not consume (hopefully)…………
However I am sure many will have seen cockers point and Shepherds retrieve, so they still have a vestige of the total skills of the original role model the wolf. All have been genetically engineered to fill a niche, which must have been invaluable to the hunter farmer gatherers thousands of years ago. They will have been a valuable and important commodity.
On top of their incredible abilities for some breeds to guard hunt retrieve and herd. Dogs also have an amazing knack of inveigling themselves to humans.
They are born with the Ahhhhhhhhh factor, large heads and saucer size eyes, make then almost irresistible to the primate that is in us all.
We are hard-wired to want to cuddle something with the head and eye attributes of a pup. That is what makes them so successful in the evolutionary chain.
In what was a very small time-frame some 15000 years, they have gone from zero to 800 million.
Paradoxically the wolf population has shrunk to a meagre 400 thousand.
At one time, the wolf (Canis lupus) had the most extensive range of any land mammal (excluding man), which included the entire Northern Hemisphere north of 13 o – 20 o north latitude.
Its range has now been cut back extensively, mainly by the actions of humankind. Many countries that formerly had wolf populations, including Great Britain, Mexico, and Japan, now there ahave none. In other countries, such as the United States, wolves occupy only a fraction of their former territory.
We still have much to learn about the wolf, and even more to learn about the origins background and sophistication of the worlds most successful domesticated mammal Canis lupus familiaris the domestic dog.
© Stan Rawlinson
updated April 2013
Hope For Paws – Animal Rescue Organisation
Hope for Paws is a 501 C-3 non-profit animal rescue organization, based in Los Angeles, California (E.I.N: 26-2869386). We rescue dogs and all other animals who are suffering on the streets and in the shelters. We foster these animals in our home, cage free, until we can find them permanent, loving families.
Our goal is to educate people on the importance of companion animals in our society to stop the cycle of animal neglect and abuse.
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