Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dogs of All Sizes

A few weeks ago my husband asked me how it's possible that a chihuahua and a Great Dane are the same species. There is absolutely incredible variation in the animals known taxinomically as Canis lupus familiaris. 

I told him that, as with other species (cows, horses, etc), a lot of it LIKELY has to do with selective breeding and/or accidental traits that come through that someone likes that they, then, perpetuate through breeding.  It also has to do with environments of where these dogs were originally domesticated.

I found a cool article that touches on evidence of small "lap dogs" found in France: 

Clues dug up: France and lap dogs go way back

Poodle-sized pups raise lots of questions about the earliest domestication

By Jennifer Viegas

updated 3/29/2011 1:32:49 PM ET

The oldest dogs from France were small, lap-sized canines that lived up to 15,000 years ago, according to new research.

These poodle-sized dogs raise a lot of questions about the earliest domestication of dogs, due to their impressive age and the fact that most other prehistoric pooches were much larger.

"One or many domestication events could have occurred in France and, more generally, in the western part of Europe," Maud Pionnier-Capitan told Discovery News. 
She led the French project, described in a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
"Eurasian archaeological data plea for multiple and independent domestication processes throughout the Old World," added Pionnier-Capitan, a researcher at the National Museum of Natural History in France, as well as at Claude Bernard Lyon I University.

She and her colleagues analyzed the remains of animals once thought to be dholes, a type of wild canine. The fossils were unearthed at Pont d'Ambon and Montespan in Southwest France and Le Closeau in North France.

Radiocarbon dating and detailed investigations determined that the fossils all belonged to small Upper Paleolithic dogs. These, together with a few other finds, confirm the presence of small dogs in Europe from at least 15,000 to 11,500 years ago.

Pionnier-Capitan believes these dogs had a height below about 17 inches.

The Rest of the Article Can be Found Here
Also: History of the Dog  - now this is a wikipedia site so take it as such. I read through it and it sounds pretty reasonable and in line with other sources I've read on domestication of wolves to dogs. 

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