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.)
According to retired anthropologist Pat Shipman from Penn State University, dingoes and their closely related New Guinea singing dogs, are not dogs. They are not wolves either, but fall into their own class.
Domestic dogs arrived in Australia in 1788 with the first ships of convicts. The dingoes were already there for at least 4000 or more years prior to that. Genetically and behaviorally, they are more like wolves with their inability to digest starches and their inability to bond with humans. Dogs on the other hand have no difficulty digesting starches and do bond with people.
Dingoes can survive in the Australian outback where domestic dogs that are feral have a difficult time or cannot survive.
What makes it difficult to separate the lines between wolves, dogs and dingoes is that genetically they can hybridize and have fertile offspring unlike horses and donkeys who typically produce infertile mules.
Shipman feels that a dingo is a wolf on its way to becoming a dog but never made it.
A new study by comparative psychologists at the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna has illustrated that both dogs and wolves understand what it means to be treated unequally.
Previously, the studies that illustrated that dogs understood and reacted negatively to inequality, assumed that this reaction was due to domestication. The current study illustrates that this is not true because wolves reacted the same way as dogs.
The tests also showed that higher ranking wolves and dogs became frustrated more quickly when they perceived favoritism. Scientists assumed this is because they are not used to receiving lower quality rewards.
What makes this interesting is that the study illustrates that the animals being tested understand and recognize what a lower quality reward consists of. This means that they observed the differences in the rewards, were able to value the reward and determine that they were not getting as much.
The most exciting information from this experiment is how it illustrates an animal’s ability to think, reason and make decisions and judgements. For pet owners, it shows us that when we train our animals, the reward needs to be something valued by the animal. After all don’t people feel the same way too?
According to Thomas Newsome of Deakin University and the University of Sydney in Australia, and co-author Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the rise of secondary predators such as coyotes, jackals and foxes is in large part due to the limits placed on the areas that wolves and dingoes range. He found this to be true in Australia and Europe as well as the United States.
Coyotes and foxes are very adaptable and can be found in suburban settings as well as more open areas. Their population has increased because their main predator, the wolf and dingo, does not have the ability to range far enough to keep them under control. Wolves need a large area to roam and even though re-location has increased their numbers in some areas, their ability to range is fragmented.
The team plans to study the impact that localization has on the environments where the main predators are the big cats such as jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers.
The Himalayan wolf is on the critically endangered list because they are so rare. Their existence and plight have become publicized by the efforts of an international research team led by Madhu Chetri, a graduate student at the Hedmark University of Applied Sciences in Norway. He has studied the wolf in the largest protected area of Nepal.
The Himalayan wolf looks quite a bit different then its European cousins. They are smaller in size, have a longer muzzle and shorter, stumpy legs. They are also marked differently with white around their throat, chest and belly and the inner parts of their legs. They also have a wooly coat.
A pair of Himalayan wolves in their natural habitat. Credit: Madhu Chetri; CC-BY 4.0
To me they look more like our modern Husky breeds, especially the Malamute and Siberian Husky. Siberian Huskies have been known to have an occasional wooly coat.
The researches feel that the Himalayan wolf is a separate branch of the wolf-dog family tree, making it especially rare.
As is the case with most wolves, the local farmers, ranchers and livestock owners hunted and killed as many wolves as they could, believing that they are a threat to their domestic livestock.
Hopefully, the researchers will be able to save this rare and unusual member of the wolf family.
A study conducted by Vladimire Dinets, UT Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Benjamin Eligulashvili, an Israel-based zoologist, seems to imply that these two enemies may have joined together for survival in the harsh Israeli desert.
Striped Hyenas were observed in the middle of grey wolf packs as they traveled together through a maze of canyons in the southern part of the Negev desert.
Why would they do this? The theory is that the hyenas have a better sense of smell and the ability to locate carrion miles away. They can also dig and crack bones better than wolves. The wolves are more agile and can bring down large game. Together they both have a greater chance of survival.
What is not known is if this is a common occurrence that has not been observed before, or an unusual event.
What is nice about their unity, as Dinets commented, it is an example for humans about overcoming differences and learning to get along.
It is always refreshing to learn more about the behavior of wild animals and studies like this make you wonder how much more there is to learn.