Friday, August 19, 2011

Links, Pix, & Assorted Phenomena...

Long overdue, especially the New Improved Version 3 of Darren Naish's Tetrapod Zoology, now hosted by Scientific American. I hope this means that Darren is finally making some money of what was and still is the best zoological blog on the Net.

New data on ancient dog origins in SE Asia? They seem to think this lineage was a dead end; why?

The Atlantic is again beating the AR drum by distorting the facts, conflating public and private land, ignoring the harm that out- of- control feral equid populations can do, and so on. I don't want to spend much time on the Atlantic because I am vulnerable to the charge that I am a disgruntled former writer, but someone should start writing them demanding they admit their now clear biases. (And what does a former TV legal analyst know about natural history, ranching, land use issues, or arid land ecology?)

After The Woods and the Water is a blog and log for Nick Hunt, who is attempting to walk across Europe, following the trail of Patrick Leigh Fermor. He recruited small sums from what turned out to be 45 people for his budget (we are proud to be among them) and will be writing PAPER as well as occasional cyber dispatches from the road. Wish him luck!

Rifle Loonys! Recently I was advising a friend on his first big game rifle and it occurred to me that there was someone available who knew far more than me and had written a book, Obsessions of a Rifle Loony, about it. I sent him to the site of John Barsness and Eileen Clarke, Rifles and Recipes , which offers that book and a whole lot more. Of the goodies on offer at the site I particularly recommend that book, Eileen's Slice of the Wild (the most detailed and analytical game cookbook ever, from the female half of a couple that lives on game even more than we do) and one I come late to: the quarterly Rifle Loony Newsletter, which for only $8 a year continues the themes of the books above with knowledge and good humor. One of John's quiet virtues is that he is a mythbuster, knocking down "truths" and cliches that get endlessly read, repeated and quoted. I am embarrassed to say I have done this in my past, at least on rifles (I will claim more personal knowledge of shotguns). That I don't now is not just experience; in part it is because I read John.

(I am now adding to the post at 4:30 PM as I intended more and to put it in draft, but published prematurely and had to go out!)

To continue...

An international camera trap gallery to benefit mammal research in tropical forests-- stunning black and white images of such things as jaguars, chimps, tapirs, and my favorite implausible esthetic mammal, the giant anteater (best portrayed by sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti-- a future blog subject. If anyone knows of an Internet pic of this bronze let me know? HT Annie Davidson.

Some of the dogs stayed home, some went to the kennel which they consider jail, but Lashyn, who needs her insulin shots, went on vacation with Peculiar and Mrs. She is looking good and enjoyed her visit but will remain dubious (as does Taik) about "wet". Here, hiking up north with(getting very pregnant!) Mrs:


A very strange bird: a gyrfalcon- kestrel hybrid (with a kestrel for comparison)! Will be interesting to see how it develops...


Finally, a little phenology. Most Augusts bring first thunderstorms, then spadefoot toads emerging and singing in the temporary pools, which in turn portend boletes in the hills. This year we have almost none of the above, but local naturalist John Wilson sends some toads to remind...


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Asian Dog Origins article--nice to see a doggy origins discussion without a single mention of Coppinger's hare-brained notions(except perhaps for the idea that humans had to be SETTLED; i. e. not nomadic hunter-gatherers, before dogs could be domesticated from wolves--even though nomadic hunters have always depended on their dogs far more for survival than perhaps any other culture-type) which set the dog domestication theories back a decade or so before logic and ACTUAL EVIDENCE have finally prevailed(let's hope). As for Asian origins--I wouldn't be suprised if the process happened independently with wolves in a variety of areas and different peoples--you could conceivably domesticate some wolves even today if you were determined enough and had descendants who would continue to carry on with the process! Fully modern humans probably first met wolves in the Mideast or Northeast Africa--that would likely be the "first beginning", and most archaeological evidence points to that. But that doesn't mean there couldn't have been multiple beginnings as humans spread throughout Europe, Asia, and later North America. And as dogs distinct from wolves have crossbred with each other throughout history(and do to this day), that only complicates the search for origins, of course.....And regarding the Atlantic wild mustang article--not a mention in the comments about how overly large populations of wild horses negatively impact native herbivores in the areas where they live--Bighorn sheep, elk, moose, whitetail and mule deer--although a bit was bantered about bison. Or the fact that RANCHERS are also subject to controls and laws themselves! I LOVE wild horses, and despite them being an introduced "invasive" species, they ARE a part of our West, and SHOULD be preserved, and I don't doubt some BMI guys are brutal and unnecessarily cruel and stupidly abusive at times, but regardless, WILD HORSES WILL HAVE TO BE CONTROLLED SOMEWAY, SOMEHOW, unfortunate a FACT as that is. The BEST thing for the environment and all wild or feral animals all those people wringing their hands about horse culling can do, is not reproduce themselves! Or people could start sport hunting horses for meat just like other big game--a lotta meat on a horse! Why is shooting elk acceptable in our culture, but not horses? Although aquiring, breeding, and adapting African Lions and perhaps tigers to our West(hey, they, or similar such big cats also used to be native!) MIGHT be enough predator control to help keep BOTH the wild horses AND humans in check, since the cougars, bears, and wolves don't seem to be quite enough in that regard......L.B.

Steve Bodio said...

Multiple dog origins link coming soon!

Trouble with Atlantic as always these days is that they distort or ignore the facts because they want to end ranching-- all the ranchers there are asking is that numbers be compatible with law and ecological sense--- as you more or less note.

I have eaten horse in France & Mongolia-- tastes great! An Anglo Saxon culture prejudice exists I think.

Mark Churchill said...

I'm not usually all that interested in hybrids, being a dyed-in-the-wool passage-hawk enthusiast, but that gyr x kestrel is intriguing...

Anonymous said...

OOPS,I just realized I used the initials "BMI" instead of "BLM", and I have no idea what BMI could represent--"Bowel Movement Interrogator" perhaps? As a zookeeper, I do a lot of that myself....L.B.

CZLion said...

Spotted this on twitter and thought you would enjoy.

http://www.whas11.com/younews/127065813.html

HTTrainer said...

Who knows:
where the first "dogs" ever were?
and how many times those folks at the other ocean watched "The Misfits"?
My guess is that we will find more evidence of the origin of dogs and eventually someone or some horse will kick more common sense into writers and their editors.

R.S.Breth said...

The tip on John Barsness is a great one - He's one of those great writers that can be humorous while telling the absolute truth about something technical.

Retrieverman said...

I love how The Atlantic went down the "horses as native wildlife" wormhole.

It is true that the horses currently feral in the United States are likely belonged to a species that was once found from Nebraska to Belgium. However, that species of horse became extinct in the New World-- Martin's overkill hypothesis, warming climate destroying the grassland habitat, spreading epidemics from the Old World, or a combination of these factors did the New World population of Equus ferus in. It wasn't here when the Spanish came, and it was the Spanish who let them go loose on the range. These numbers were augmented with Anglo horses.

One thing that is never mentioned by the horse as native North American wildlife crowd is that the true wild horses were-- and in the case of Przewalski's horse, are-- still quite a bit smaller than most domestic horse. The native wild horse of Europe, the Tarpan, was pony-sized, and for the past hundred years or so since the Tarpan became extinct, there was a debate over which "primitive horse" was most closely related to the Tarpan. The Poles claimed their konik horses that ran wild in the forests were actually just semi-domesticated Tarpan, and the German nationalist zoologists, Lutz and Heinz Heck, tried to recreate the Tarpan using most konik lines.

All of that is for naught, for it was recently determined that the Exmoor pony is the one most closely related to the Tarpan: http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/exmoor-ponies011.html#cr

Virtually all mustangs and other feral horses on the range are much larger animals than an Exmoor pony, and they also eat a lot more grass.

So basically we have the large saddlehorse-type running around in an enviromment that, for whatever reason, expunged itself of small horses. If those are native wildlife, then we can do wolf reintroduction very easily and solve whatever population issues exist with domestic dogs. If feral horses are native, all we have to do is go to every animal shelter and dog pound and buy every large dog we can find. Then, we should turn them loose into the wild. They are genetically as much wolves as feral horses are prehistoric North Amerian Equus ferus. I guarantee you that no wolf expert would condone such a move.

Don't get me wrong. I've been accused of hating feral cats because I want them destroyed. I don't like cats all, but that's beside the point. I happen to love horses very much, but I'm not so romantic and sentimental to want them to roam the range.