What were the earliest canines like?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Landau Roof, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    I was walking my dog this morning when I thought was there ever a time when carnivores, predators, were not hunters? Dogs, for instance, do they have a known ancestor who was not a meat-eater? My guess, and I admit that it is only a guess, is that most carnivores developed from omnivores. It’s hard to see an herbivore, say a sheep, turning into a carnivore, whereas there are instances of omnivore’s being superb predators (bears!). So what do we know about dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals, hyena and coyotes earliest ancestors? What were their habits, and what did they eat?
     
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  3. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammal ; then
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivoramorpha ; then
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivora ; then
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caniformia ; then
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feliformia ; then
     
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  5. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    Hyena's are not canids though.
     
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  7. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    No, they're actually closer related to felids, which is surprising. I read those links and learned a few things. I did realize hyenas were the most distant relations to dogs of all the supposed canines, just the look of them, and those pseudo-penises the females have. My own wiki research when I had just written the OP led me t learn that Canis lupus familiarishas the grey wolf as its nearest relation. Dogs are in essence domesticated grey wolves that have been bred to look the many ways they do from great dane to toy chihuahua. I also read of the Russian silver fox experiment. Apparently it is man's first stab at domestication since prehistoric times. The 'breeders' selected for friendliness to humans and only friendliness to humans, since of course, silver foxes naturally shy away from Man. Interestingly, while they got friendliness, they also got floppy ears, spotted coats and more submissiveness than the untamed silver fox generally has. Even Darwin wondered what the connection betwendomestication and floppy ears was. We see it in goats and donkeys and rabbits among others.
     
  8. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    I currently have a Belgian Malinois puppy, who originally had floppy ears at 7-8 weeks. It made him look sweet. As he gained confidence, over the next couple of weeks, his ears stood up, first one, then the other, a week later. His high ears makes him look more alert and less like a lap puppy.

    I would guess the floppy ear trend in domestic animals was due to selective breeding, to make common animals subjectivity appear more friendly to humans; easier to sell. Erect ears are more subjectively scary and would not be bred as often. If you include the free market, more sales would be made if the animals looked friendly at POS, with the floppy ears version sold more often.

    I used to own a doberman pincher, who had a docked tail and cropped ears. Doberman Pinchers have naturally floppy ears and long tails. The natural doberman looks like a friendly muscular hound dog, when left unaltered. In America, it is common for the doberman puppies to have their ears surgically made to stand up, so the dog looks more alert/intimidating. The cropping of the tail is done because makes it harder to read the dog's tail wagging body language. You can't tell if a dog is friendly if you can't see the tail wag. Being often used as guard dogs, the alterations make them more intimidating to strangers.

    My doberman was partially deaf, so the erect ears was all subjective show. He was very friendly and social, with both people and other animals. But he was scary looking due to being muscular and fast, with that alert look due to his high ears and that ambiguous tail body language. At POS he would be assumed scary if one did not know enough to look under he hood to see the engine.
     
  9. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Their habits were terrible: wantonly attacking other animals, dragging them down to a bloody death and all without tablecloths or place settings, and when they weren't out for horrible carnage, they spent half their time fornicating and licking themselves. How gauche! Polite society doesn't ask about such things.
     
  10. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    598
    Yes, but what I am saying is the Russians didn't breed for floppy ears and spots, the just came with the the reduced skittishness around human beings. No one knows why. If I may... I remember reading that when they first cloned cats, the calico patterns would be different from the original cat that had been cloned. It was as if coat pattern relied on something else other than genes. The clone was supposed to be an exact copy, and while it genetically was an exact copy, it somehow had a different pattern coat.

    So what I want to say is, here we are on Sci Forums, and there are real scientists who work at understanding sub-atomic particles or the origins of the universe, black holes, space-time and the possibility (or not) of time-travel, and we fancy we know a thing or two, and yet here are floppy-eared, spotted puppies and calico kitty cats, things we could have found in a medieval cottage, and can find in every day life as well as storybooks for little children, and we think we know all about such things, but in reality we hardly understand even cute little kitties and puppy dogs. So how then can we be so arrogant as to suppose we understand the universe, its origin and its laws?

    I am not saying we should give up and not even try, but we should pause, take a step back and maybe consider everything we think we know from the very beginning, and not be so damned full of ourselves.

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    Ah, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you... and you're sooooo cute!
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014
  11. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    LOL! And this from a guy with a doggy avatar in a wolf cap! Polite society may not ask, but this is SciForums! Where no rudeness is left unexplored.
     
  12. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    To our eternal embarrassment, yes. Perhaps SF content could be filtered out under that European law about internet forgetfulness. I mean, it's used to cover the tracks of embezzelers and child molestors, so surely it's good enough for us.
     
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    All animals evolved from the simplest single-cell ancestors. That's just as true of the carnivores as any other clade.

    Dogs are actually considerably more omnivorous than wolves, even though they are subspecies of the same species: Canis lupus lupus and Canis lupus familiaris. When a few adventurous (or simply lazy!) wolves decided to try joining human communities, it's likely (although not universally accepted by either biologists or anthropologists) that they were attracted by the middens (a fancy word for garbage dumps) near our camps. Our garbage contained plenty of bones and offal to satisfy the appetite of a carnivore, but it was also full of vegetable matter. Eventually their physiology adapted slightly to make it easier to extract the calories from plant tissue. But more importantly, the protein content of plant tissue is significantly less than in animal tissue, so these proto-dogs had to adapt to a low-protein diet.

    In warm-blooded vertebrates, the brain is the organ that uses the most protein. So dogs slowly evolved smaller brains to subsist on their new diet. That's the main difference between wolves and dogs. Other modifications are primarily examples of neoteny, the retention of juvenile traits. Baby wolves bark, wag their tails, chase sticks and play roughhouse, but they abandon these behaviors in adulthood. Dogs do these things until the day they die, and these are behaviors that endear them to us and cement the partnership between our two species.

    As you noted, other carnivores have adapted to an omnivorous diet, notably bears. The panda (a species of bear) has actually evolved into a complete herbivore. Raccoons are also not fussy eaters and enjoy eating our garbage.

    Regarding hyenas, yes, they are a clade of feliforms. The only other feliform clade includes the various species of cats. The other carnivorans--bears, raccoons, dogs, weasels, pinnipeds, and a couple of other families--are all caniforms.
    Then take a second look at the cetaceans, every one of which is a carnivore--assuming you accept the mysticeti (baleen whales) grazing on krill (which are animals) as a carnivorous diet.

    The entire clade of cetaceans is descended from a primitive hippopotamus, which is undeniably a herbivore--an artiodactyl or even-toed ungulate like goats, cattle, deer, camels, giraffes and many other well-known grazers. The cetaceans and artiodactyls have recently been combined into a single clade: Cetartiodactyla.
     
  14. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    Thank you. That's all very interesting, but what I mean is when did carnivores/predators break off from omnivores or herbivore. I suppose the dinosaurs or earlier reptiles made they break. Alright, some mollusk hunt and eat other mollusks and big fish eat small fish, and whales eat plankton, but I am interested in terrestrial quadrupeds and how, when, (I guess I know why) they became full-time raptors. Did feleines and canines develop directly form reptilian predators, or were all mammals rodents or rodentlike and then a few began to specialize in predation?
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    See the Wikipedia article on mammal evolution, specifically the sections on Evolution from amniotes in the Paleozoic and The mammals appear.

    The first mammals ate insects and/or fish.
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Evolution from herbivory to carnivory is rare, carnivory to herbivory is more common. The structural adaptation to a plant based diet is usually complex and specialized - meat is easier, in evolutionary terms.

    Most herbivores are functionally omnivores, btw: even in the course of normal feeding the insects and such they ingest are an important part of their diet. Even the ruminants such as cows, with all their specialized internal processing and nutrient extraction machinery, if maintained on sterile feed with few insects etc, require supplemental proteins and other meat-provided nutrients in their diet for good health.

    Also: there are very, very few mammals that do not ever eat meat. Deer - especially bucks in rutting season - have been recorded eating birds trapped in mist nets and fish trapped in shallow pools. Goats will eat your ham sandwich out of your pocket. Chipmunks will eat carrion such as roadkill snakes, as will other rodents. And almost everything that breathes air will go out of its way to eat an egg.

    So it's more likely, by presumption, that the herbivores "broke off" rather than the carnivores.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  17. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks Fraggle, Iceaura and all. Reading your posts and the links I think I have my answer now: cimolestes. It may as well be a rat! But that's what 'mammalists' (creatures ,i.e. dinosaurs, that have an unreasonable prejudice against mammals) always say about all us mammals -that we're just a bunch of rats!

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  18. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting observation.
    I wonder whether it adapts their hearing to better listen to human speech.
    Just a thought.
     
  19. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    No, it's just a free byproduct of domestication. The genes that guide both are probably in the same area of the genome or connected somehow.
     
  20. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    I did think of that (honestly).
    But we have domesticated ourselves.
    We live under the control of other humans.
    Why don't we have floppy ears?
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  21. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Apes are intrinsically "domestic".
     
  22. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member

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    Spidergoat is right. I don't think a species can be said to have domesticated itself - not even The Great Domesticator, Man, did not 'domesticate' himself. Following Spidergoat's thinking, wolves (a.k.a.undomesticated dogs) "are intrinsically domestic", but they didn't domesticate themselves, the word we need here is 'socialize'. Dogs are virtually genetically identical to gray wolves, it was we who 'domesticated' them. Wolves, apes, men, bees are social animals that have developed societies, packs, bands, villages, hives, what have you; it is a different process altogether from taming another species.

    So that's why we don't have floppy ears and spots, well, not too many spots anyway.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    I believe that pre-human migration out of African was assisted by a symbiotic relationship between an ancestor of the modern dog. Apes can develop relationships with other species without either species having to be owned by the other.

    To get the symbiosis started, all you would need are the original stationary pre-human group finding a litter of puppies. Puppies are cute and harmless and would attach themselves to the pre-humans. As the pups get older and their wilder instincts appear, there is a love/hate relationship; two species loosely attached. Not all the pups will stay or be welcome, but the ones that do/are begin the symbiosis. In any litter of pups, there are a range of personalities with some high drive and others more calm.

    Dogs are migratory apex predators, scavengers and omnivores. . Dogs form a chain of command and will work as a team during hunting and fighting. Dogs live in burrows and caves. These are skills useful for the future pre-human migration

    During a symbiosis between the dogs and the early migrating pre-humans, the dogs would be the leader, due to their natural skills being more developed for the needs of migration; less uncertainty. The pre-humans would not be subservient, but rather they would treated as part of the pack, learning, by watching the alpha dogs. The humans would be distributed in the pack hierarchy; part of the team. The mother dogs would care for the human pups against predators.

    I used to own a doberman, who was bred to be a work dog; high prey drive. In his mind (same for all dogs) he and I were part of the same pack. Because he was bred to be tough and fearless, he would often challenge me to see who was dominant and the alpha dog. He made me have to be tougher. I could not be too mellow or he would see weakness and challenge me.

    I can see the pre-humans, by being part of the migrating pack, needing to meet the constant challenge of this instinctive dog ritual. The humans leaned to stand tall and erect, to help them intimidate their opponent during the challenge, with size/height. They would also learn to use weapons to challenge and to defend themselves; dog training camp to sharpen their fighting skills. My dog would take sticks and chew them to points; dogs made the original knives and spears.

    Dogs, when they challenge pack mates, don't wish to hurt or kill each other. They do this to keep the team fit (rough football practice) with the leader have to be the fittest of all. The leader of the pack has the most dangerous job, with the process of challenge making the team chain as strong as possible; top to bottom.

    Being part of the dog pack would also mean more protein in the pre-human diet, because the skills of the dogs would make this food more available. As they pre-human learn the ways of the team, they become more and more alpha. Domestication occurs later, due to a bond that endured.
     

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