Coat color in dogs and wolves – new discovery

A new study has found that there are five distinct coat colors in dogs and wolves. Previously scientists believed that there were only four. The mystery of coat colors has been solved. (However, we never know what discoveries the future holds.)

This discovery is the result of the work done by an international team of researchers including scientists from the Institute of Genetics of the University of Bern. The team found that a genetic variant which is responsible for a very light-colored coat in dogs and wolves originated in a now extinct relative of the modern wolf.

According to the research a small piece of DNA from this extinct ancestor is still found in yellow dogs and white artic wolves.

Note: This information may help breeders better determine the potential coat color of future litters. I hope that it eventually helps eliminate the deafness and other ills that are connected to certain colorations in dogs, namely the merle, harlequin, piebald and for some breeds the all-white factors, that cause genetic problems.)  

Giraffes are socially complex

Recently scientists have learned that Giraffes have a complex social structure. There is evidence that their social life is as complex as elephants and killer whales. Giraffe females that have passed the reproductive stage of their life still help rear the young, the grandmother effect. They have high functioning and complex societies.

stock photo

By understanding their social system, scientists and conservationist will be able to help them survive. It will raise their position in the hierarchy of the animal kingdom, affording them more protection to help them thrive.

Authors Note: What this illustrates is that we know very little about the animal kingdom and should never assume anything. It is exciting to think of researching about animals and imagining what we will learn.

The Animals In Our Lives

I had the honor of contributing to this book. Please spread the word.

Stories of Companionship and Awe

by Catherine Lawton (with Cladach Authors and Friends)

The wonderfully varied stories recount experiences with dogs and cats, sheep and horses, backyard birds and woodland deer, and other surprising creatures. The encounters and adventures of people and animals include childhood memories, individual and family experiences, and wilderness adventures. They all celebrate the companionship we have with animals both domestic and wild, in good times and bad, in times of celebration and times of challenge.

As fellow creatures, we give animals attention and care, and they give us so much in return. If we listen and observe, they teach us about God and about ourselves. This inspirational volume will evoke laughter, tears, and the experience of awe.

Animals entertain us, help us, teach us, play with us, mourn with us, even work with us. They help us experience God’s presence in our lives.

Publication date: August 20, 2021

ISBN: 9781945099274, 5.5″ x 8.5″, 15 Black/White Photos

$17.99 Pre-order Now: https://cladach.com/the-animals-in-our-lives/

Surprising activity in Tufted Titmice and Chickadee’s

Researcher Mark Hauber a professor of evolution, ecology and behavior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and other scientists have made an unusual discovery. They found that Tufted Titmice and Chickadees will use animal hair to line their nests. While this may not seem unusual, what he found by studying videos, was that the birds braved landing on sleeping mammals to pluck out their hair. It seems the mammals did not mind having the birds do this and some did not wake up. The fact that these birds use animal hair was not new to the researchers, but it was always assumed that the birds obtained the hair from carcasses, not from live animals.

Tufted Titmouse

The researchers have named this behavior “kleptotrichy” which is Greek for “theft” and “hair.” As the researchers further studied this behavior, they found that the birds plucked hair from 47 humans, 45 dogs, three cats, three raccoons and a porcupine. I wonder if the humans were aware of the plucking birds.

Lily the Havanese
budgie who pulled Lily’s tail

What came to mind for me was a parakeet (budgie) that I owned years ago. While I was working in my office, I would let the bird fly around. My small Havanese would sleep in her bed next to my desk. The keet would sit on my lamp and watch the dog. Then he would fly down, landing on the floor and tilt his head back and forth as birds do, watching her sleep. He would take a few hops toward her until he reached her tail and then he would grab one hair and pull it. The dog would wake up, half rise and growl at the bird, who would squawk bird laughter, as he flew back to the lamp. When the dog went back to sleep, he would do it all over again. I always felt that he did it for fun but who knows?

Cockatoos are very smart

An international team of scientists, Barbara Klump and Lucy Aplin from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, John Martin from the Taronga Conservation Society and Richard Major from the Australian Museum have made an interesting discovery.The sulphur-crested cockatoo, native to Australia, has been observed lifting the lids off of garbage bins to gain access to food. The team of researchers have determined beyond any doubt, that this behavior has been taught through social interaction from bird group to bird group. In one case a lone bird reinvented the technique of opening the trash bin and it was quickly copied and spread to other bird groups. The researchers have determined that this “taught/copied” behavior illustrates regional subcultures.     

cockatoo opening a trash bin – Max Planck photo

Not all of the cockatoos use the technique to open trash bins, but will wait for another bird, typically a male, to open the bin and then they scavenge for food.

Sulphur crested cockatoos are very smart. They are also persistent and in the wild as well as as pets, have adapted very well to living with people.

Dogs understand humans better than wolves

Scientists are constantly trying to understand the mind of the dog vs. the wolf. A recent study at <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210712122206.htm</p> Duke University showed that dogs understand people almost from birth whereas wolf puppies that were raised by people within days of their birth do not.

The wolf puppies were fed, slept in bed with and thoroughly interacted with people to try and socialize them. The dog puppies were left with their mother and littermates. The wolf and dog puppies were tested between 5 and 18 weeks old.

The researchers hid a piece of food in one of two bowls and then pointed to the right one. The dog puppies knew instantly, often on the first try, to follow the clue given by the tester. The wolf puppies never were able to follow the tester’s indication, often pointing to the correct bowl.

When the food was put in a container so that the puppy could not access it, the dog puppies looked to the human tester for help but the wolf puppies did not.

According to the researchers, the ability to understand human gestures is a complex cognitive ability that is rare in the animal kingdom. So, the fact that dogs can do it is special.

Author’s Note: Researchers try to understand the process about how dogs became dogs. There are a number of theories and as more material becomes available the theories change. One theory is that dogs are not descended from wolves, even though they are closely related but a species in and of themselves. There is evidence to support this theory the same as other theories.

Dingo, hybrid dingo or wild dog?

In a revealing study conducted by the University of New South Wales, Dr. Kylie Cairns a biologist found that contrary to popular belief, there are few wild dogs and Dingo hybrids in Australia. The study showed that 99% of the 5000+ animals tested, were pure Dingoes or if they were hybrids, were mostly Dingo and not dog. Only 1% were wild dogs or dog dominant hybrids.

Some groups refer to Dingoes as wild dogs and try to kill them. The researchers feel that if Dingoes are called Dingoes, the groups that are in favor of destroying them will change their attitude.  Because Dingoes come in a range of colors, it can be difficult for people to identify a Dingo and mistake it for a wild dog.

Dingo

Research has found that by killing Dingoes, the local ecosystem is harmed. The Dingoes keep the herbivores and smaller predators under control and thus keep the environment balanced. When the Dingoes are removed, the Kangaroo population grows which leads to overgrazing and causes damage to the soil.  

Only the Victoria National Park in Australia protects Dingoes. Elsewhere they are hunted by dropping aerial bait to kill them. Farmers do complain that their livestock is harmed by Dingoes so a means of protecting farm animals is necessary.

Collecting DNA from the air

DNA has been collected in various way, including soil and water, now scientists have proven that environmental DNA (eDNA) can be collected from the air.

Both plants and animals shed DNA in the environment that they interact with. Dr. Elizabeth Clare, of the Queen Mary University in London has stated that ecologists and conservationists are always looking for non-invasive ways to monitor biological environments, collecting DNA from the air provides one way to do this.     

An added benefit to monitoring eDNA is that it will allow researchers to study the transmission of airborne diseases. What the study does not mention is how long the eDNA exists in the air. However, it is an interesting and beneficial step in the right direction that will benefit the health of all living things.

Helping Bats

Bats have had a significant decline in the past few years due to white nose syndrome. As a result, many people have done what they could to help bats repopulate. Bat ecologists Joy O’Keefe and Reed Crawford at the University of Illinois, have conducted a study to see how beneficial bat boxes are in helping repopulate bats.

google images

They found that the common bat boxes that many people use may actually be harmful to bats. Many of the flat-paneled boxes with slats often get too hot for the bats and do not allow them to move away from the hot area. This is especially true of the boxes are painted a dark color.

If you want to put up a bat box, they suggest a four-sided box that gives the bats freedom to move all around the inside. Even with a better bat box, the placement is also critical. Do not put the box where it will get direct sun all day. The area where the bat box is located should be safe for bats, protecting them from predators, away from roads, and free from parasites.

What home owners can do is plant native trees and wildflowers that attract the insects that bats eat. Provide a clean water source and leave dead standing trees, which are natural roosting areas for bats.