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14 of Your Dog's Wild Relatives

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All the domestic breeds of dogs that we are familiar with, from chihuahuas to pit bulls, are the same species: Canis lupus familiaris. In fact, our dogs are a subspecies of Canis lupus, or wolf. Your dog could interbreed with most wolves -if you weren't a responsible pet owner who spayed or neutered your dog. Photograph by Flickr user Fatemeh.

Dogs belong to the taxonomic family Canidae (canines) which is divided into two tribes: those related to wolves (Canini) and those related to foxes (Vulpini). A couple of canine species lay outside these two tribes, but hyenas are not canines. They look like and act like dogs, but as we learned in a post last week, hyenas are more closely related to cats than to dogs! Let's look at some wild dogs that are related to your pet.

1. Gray Wolf

Lone Wolf, Colchester Zoo

The species Canis lupus covers a lot of dogs. There are 39 subspecies, one of them being all domestic dog breeds. Thirty-seven of these subspecies are wolves, the largest and most common being the Eurasian gray wolf (Canis lupus lupus), the common ancestor of domestic dog breeds. The gray wolf is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and comes in black, brown, grey, and white, or a combination of these colors. It is not considered to be a threatened species, but is protected in some areas. Photograph by Flickr user BBM Explorer.

2. Arabian Wolf

Quite a few wolf subspecies look like the common gray wolf, but a few are strikingly different. The Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs) evolved to live in the deserts of the Middle East, which is why its hair is so short. The fur varies over time according to the season and local temperatures. Photograph by Wikipedia user ???? ?????.

3. Arctic Wolf

Arctic wolf

The Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos) is pretty much just a wolf that lives in the Arctic. The subspecies has adapted to its habitat by growing thick white fur that grows longer between the toes to protect its footpads and shorter ears and snout to conserve heat. Photograph by Flickr user dankos-unlmtd.

4. Coyote

Coyote_Crop

Coyotes (Canis latrans) are a species that has evolved as a canine predator but subsists alongside civilization better than most wolves. With less fear of humans, they've learned to help themselves to livestock, or will scavenge for garbage if no easy prey is available. However, we know at least one who is obsessed with a certain desert bird. Photograph by Flickr user Jean-Guy Dallaire.

5. Jackal

There are three Canis species classified as jackals, or Old World coyotes. Shown here is a black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) which is native to several areas of Africa. The side-striped jackal (Canis adustus) and the golden jackal (Canis aureus) are the other two species. Jackals are predators, but are also scavengers like the coyote, and while they prefer fresh meat, will eat anything available. Photograph by Wikipedia user Raoulduke47.

6. Dingo

Fraser Island 0573

The subspecies of Canis lupus that is neither domestic nor a wolf is Canis lupus dingo. However, there is some argument that dingos are indistinguishable from domestic dogs except for the fact that they are not domestic. The subspecies covers the Australian dingo plus some feral dogs of Asia such as the New Guinea Singing Dog. The Australian dingo is descended from domestic dogs that were brought to the island thousands of years ago which became feral over many generations. The dingos of Australia still interbreed with more recent domestic dogs, and so the subspecies is considered "vulnerable." Photograph by Flickr user Michael Dawes.

7. Dhole

A tale of two tales

The dhole (Cuon alpinus) of Asia is a dog of the Caninae family and Canini tribe, but has its own genus. You would recognize this creature as a dog, but it has more teats and fewer teeth than Canis, and whistles more than it barks or howls. They live in the forests and steppes of Russia, the Himalayas, and even as far south as Java. The biggest number of these endangered dogs live in India. Photograph by Flickr user Amit Kotwal.

8. Red Fox

Fox Kit Up Close

The other tribe of dog is the fox, or Vulpes. When we think of foxes, the image that comes up is usually the common red fox (Vulpes vulpes) which lives all over the Northern Hemisphere, plus Australia. It is the largest of the true foxes. Despite its name, it comes in varying colors, and there are 45 recognized subspecies. Photograph by Flickr user Brad Smith.

9. Kit Fox

The kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) is native to the deserts of the western United States and Mexico. Its skinny body and large ears are adaptive to desert life, like the coyotes it somewhat resembles. There are eight subspecies of kit fox, mostly named after their habitats, like the San Joaquin Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica).

10. Arctic Fox

Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus)

The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) is sometimes classified as Alopex lagopus, which is an older classification that taxonomists still quarrel about. The lagopus sounds like a relation to rabbits, but in this case it refers to the fur that grows between the fox's toes to help protect them from cold surfaces. The Arctic fox could be mistaken for other fox species when seen in summer. Photograph by Flickr user Billy Lindblom.

Renard Arctique / Artic Fox

But this fox is very sensitive to seasonal changes, and will grow the thick warm white coat that made it famous by winter. Photograph by Flickr user Denis-Carl Robidoux.

11. Fennec Fox

Fennek

The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) takes the desert adaptation of large ears used to dissipate heat to the max. The small nocturnal fox lives in the upper Sahara where heat dissipation is of the utmost importance. At just a couple of pounds and 9 to 16 inches long, the fennec fox is the world's smallest canid species (toy dog breeds are not representative of the species). Fennec foxes are sometimes kept as pets. Photograph by Flickr user Joachim S. Müller.

12. Island Fox and Gray Fox

Creeping

Urocyon is a genus of foxes that climb trees. The island fox (Urocyon littoralis), also called the Channel Island fox, is barely bigger than a fennec fox. The only other existing Urocyon species is the slightly bigger gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). Photograph by Flickr user Robert Thompson.

13. Raccoon Dog

Bawwwww

The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) is of the Canidae family, but is neither a wolf nor a fox. It is not at all related to a raccoon, but may be mistaken for one. A distant cousin of your dog, the raccoon dog is still a closer relation than a hyena. Raccoon dogs are native to eastern Asia and are farmed for their fur. Photograph by Flickr user Dennis Irrgang.

14. Bat-eared Fox

The bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) is another member of the Canidae family that is neither a wolf nor fox (despite the name). It is the only species of the genus Otocyon, and lives in the African savannah, eating insects -mostly termites. Its name comes from its distinctive big black ears. Photograph by Wikipedia user Samsara.

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CDC Traces Infectious Disease Outbreak in Seven States to Pet-Store Puppies
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Campylobacter bacteria have infected 39 people in seven states, and puppies sold at one chain of pet stores in Ohio are likely to blame. As NPR reports, a federal investigation is currently underway as to the exact cause of the outbreak of the intestinal infection.

The symptoms of Campylobacter include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and in rare cases it can lead to death in victims with weakened immune systems. About 1.3 million people fall ill to it each year, but the bacteria can also infect animals like dogs.

Of those hit by the latest outbreak, 12 are employees of the national chain Petland in four states, according to the CDC. The other 27 have either bought a puppy from a Petland store recently or live with or visited someone who has. Eighteen cases have been reported in Ohio, and the rest have appeared in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. While no deaths have been reported, nine victims have been hospitalized.

Puppies, like humans babies, are more likely to get sick than full-grown dogs, which may explain how the Petland animals caught the illness in the first place. But even apparently healthy adult dogs may be harboring the bacteria and spreading it through their feces. To avoid catching it from your canine companion at home, the CDC recommends washing your hands whenever you make physical contact. This also applies when handling their food and especially when picking up and throwing away their poop (with disposable gloves of course).

For the small percentage of people who do contract the infection each year, the best course of action is to wait it out if you're healthy otherwise: Symptoms take about a week to clear up.

[h/t NPR]

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12 Fascinating Facts About Ivan Pavlov
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Thanks to Ivan Pavlov, we’re all familiar with classical conditioning and the Pavlovian response (ring a bell before giving a dog a plate of food enough times, and he'll eventually begin to salivate at the sound of the bell rather than the sight of the meal). But if you want to know more about the man himself, from his side gig selling canine gastric juice to his couch-surfing days, it's time to examine these 12 drool-worthy facts about Ivan Pavlov.

1. A LOT OF WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW ABOUT HIM IS WRONG.

Pavlov’s biographers point out that most people have misconceptions about the Russian physiologist. For example, instead of ringing a bell to train dogs, Pavlov actually used a variety of tools such as a metronome, buzzer, whistle, light, harmonium, and even electric shock. And Pavlov’s concept of the conditioned response is, in reality, not exactly what he pioneered. He discussed the conditional response, but a mistranslation of the original Russian word uslovnyi gave us the phrase conditioned response, which is still used today.

2. HE PLANNED TO BECOME A PRIEST.

Pavlov was born in Ryazan, Russia in 1849. His father was a priest, and Pavlov enrolled in a theological seminary. But after reading the works of Russian physiologist Ivan Sechenov, Pavlov decided to change course. In 1870, he left the seminary and enrolled at what is now known as St. Petersburg University to study natural science, physics, and math.

3. HIS CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR WAS A BIG DEAL.

During Pavlov’s first year of university, one of the classes he took was inorganic chemistry. His professor, Dmitri Mendeleev, was a big deal in the world of science. In 1869, Mendeleev published the first periodic table of elements and is credited as the father of the periodic table. Not too shabby.

4. HIS EARLY WORK DEALT WITH PANCREATIC NERVES AND ANIMAL DIGESTION.

Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the 1870s and early 1880s, Pavlov studied the natural sciences and physiology, conducting research and working on his doctorate thesis. Specifically, he wrote about the function of the nerves in the pancreas and the heart. In 1890, Pavlov was asked to develop and direct a physiology department at the Institute of Experimental Medicine, where he studied the interplay between the nervous system and digestion.

5. HE WAS SO POOR THAT HE COUCH-SURFED FOR A FEW MONTHS.

Russian scientists worked in modest labs and were paid very little, so Pavlov struggled with finances. In 1887 he couldn’t afford his apartment anymore, so he spent a few months away from his wife Serafima (or Seraphima) Karchevskaya and young son. Pavlov crashed with friends or slept in his lab, and he took on extra jobs; he taught physiology and worked on a medical journal to earn more money.

6. HE FINANCED HIS LAB BY SELLING CANINE GASTRIC JUICE AS A CURE FOR INDIGESTION.

Pavlov kept his physiology lab running by selling something that he had easy access to: canine gastric juice. While conducting experiments on dogs’ digestive systems, Pavlov collected gastric juice from hungry dogs that stared at a big bowl of meat all day. Pavlov paid an assistant to run the gastric juice collection operation, and he sold thousands of containers of the juice each year to people around Europe, who drank it daily to treat dyspepsia (indigestion). Yum!

7. AFTER HIS FIRST SON DIED, HE NAMED ALL HIS FUTURE CHILDREN WITH “V” NAMES.

If you think Pavlov and the Kardashians have nothing in common, think again. After the sudden death of their first child, Wirchik, at a very young age, the Pavlovs had four more children: three sons and a daughter, whom they named Vladimir, Victor, Vsevolod, and Vera.

8. HE WON A NOBEL PRIZE FOR REMOVING DOGS’ ESOPHAGI.

Ivan Pavlov with students
Wellcome Images Gallery, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Although Pavlov’s best-known work—showing how an environmental stimulus can influence a behavioral response—was groundbreaking, he won a Nobel Prize in 1904 for something different. He earned the honor for his research into the animal digestive system. After surgically removing a dog’s esophagus, Pavlov fed the animal and observed how the process of digestion worked, measuring the digestive secretions of the stomach and pancreas.

9. H.G. WELLS WROTE ABOUT PAVLOV FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE.

In November 1927, science fiction writer H.G. Wells wrote an essay about Pavlov for The New York Times Magazine. Because Wells didn’t fully understand the science behind one of Pavlov’s articles about reflexes, he ignored the heavy-duty science and focused on Pavlov the man. Wells wrote about Pavlov’s "vastly heroic" nature and devotion to advancing science in the face of poverty, war, and revolution. After a 23-year-old B.F. Skinner read Wells’s article on Pavlov, he became a fan and grew up to be one of history’s most influential behavioral psychologists.

10. HE HAD A BAD TEMPER.

Ivan Pavlov
Wikimedia Commons

According to his biographer, Daniel Todes, Pavlov had issues with anger management. Beginning in childhood, his mood could change suddenly, and as an adult, he hit aggressive dogs in his lab and was known for his uncontrollable outbursts of anger. Pavlov himself described his angry outbursts as “morbid, spontaneous paroxysms.”

11. HE SPOKE OUT AGAINST SOVIET COMMUNISM.

In 1921, Vladimir Lenin publicly praised Pavlov for his scientific contributions, and the Soviet government funded his research and offered him increased food rations (he didn’t accept). But Pavlov spoke out against communism, requesting in 1922 that he be allowed to move his lab to another country. Lenin refused. Pavlov said, “For the kind of social experiment that you are making, I would not sacrifice a frog’s hind legs!” Pavlov also decried his government’s persecution of political dissidents and clergymen; in a letter, Pavlov told Joseph Stalin that he was "ashamed to be called a Russian." Pavlov wasn’t killed for his contrarian views because the government determined that his scientific work was too valuable for Russia.

12. HIS HOME AND APARTMENT WERE CONVERTED TO MEMORIAL MUSEUMS.

Pavlov’s estate in Ryazan, Russia is now a museum where visitors can explore his life and achievements. If you visit, be prepared to see stuffed dogs (and even a monkey) that Pavlov used in his experiments. And if you find yourself in St. Petersburg, you can check out The Pavlov Memorial Museum, where Pavlov lived for almost two decades before he died on February 27, 1936.

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