Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Didn't Realize...

I am reading Dogs: Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History. I'm about 3/4 done.

I just didn't realize that they were almost strictly a North American lineage that had been restricted to our continent until extremely recently.


*hand waves*

No dogs in the Old World. Or rather there was a single species that goes over to the Old World and it doesn't do well for whatever reason and is extinct by the time humanity is ready to domesticate (sorta the reverse of what happened with the Hyena lineage in OTL. However, dogs are present in the New World.

Would there be a replacement for the canids domestically? Could there be? Cats aren't dogs and cheetahs are about the closest thing that a big cat can produce that would domesticate well, except they just gotta run for their courtships to be successful...Most other cats are just not social enough, too.

A bear line then? hmmm.

What do others think?

Just what was filling the dog niche in the Old World prior to canids? Hyenas?

1 comment:

Zach said...

I think dogs and cats share similar niches--they go after similarly-sized prey, but they do it in different ways. If anything, dogs converged on their old-world counterparts. Borophagine dogs are basically hyenas, and true dogs (Canis) simply used pack-hunting techniques to take down the same kind of animals big cats do by themselves (although lions hunt in groups).

The domestic dog is most likely a "breed" of modern wolf that developed a taste for human "trash dumps" and, as a result, became less and less wary of man. Then we started breeding the hell out of them...

Incidentally, the domestic cat probably evolved from the African wildcat (maybe as few as five mated pairs) in much the same way, invading human settlements and taking care of the pests. Perhaps more interestingly is that the "default" color scheme for a "mutt" cat is that of the American shorthair (tabby), which closely resembles the color scheme of modern African wildcats.