If you were wandering around Maryland 12 million years ago, you might have run into this fellow.
You wouldn’t have know what to call him, though, because only now does his species have a definite name — Cynarctus wangi.
Fossils found by an amateur collector along the beach under the Choptank Formation in Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs region have been identified as the news species of ancient dog by a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania.
The specimen, found in Maryland, would have roamed the coast of eastern North America approximately 12 million years ago, Science Daily reported.
Among species that still roam the earth, Cynarctus wangi probably most closely resembles the hyena.
“In this respect they are believed to have behaved in a similar way to hyenas today,” said Steven E. Jasinski, a student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and acting curator of paleontology and geology at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. His new findings were published in the Journal of Paleontology.
Fossils from terrestrial species from the region and time period are rare, he said.
“Most fossils known from this time period represent marine animals, who become fossilized more easily than animals on land,” Jasinski said. “It is quite rare we find fossils from land animals in this region during this time, but each one provides important information for what life was like then.”
Jasinski and Steven C. Wallace, a professor at East Tennessee State University, began their study after the specimen was placed in the Smithsonian Institution.
Initially, they presumed it was a known species of borophagine dog, a species called marylandica that was questionably referred to as Cynarctus, a fossil of which had been found in older sediment in the same area.
But when they compared features of the teeth of the previously known and the new specimens, they found notable differences and concluded the specimen represented a distinct species new to science.
“It looks like it might be a distant relative descended from the previously known borophagine,” Jasinski said.
Borophagine dogs were widespread in North America from around 30 million to about 10 million years ago. The last members went extinct around 2 millions of years ago during the late Pliocene.
Cynarctus wangi represents one of the last surviving borophagines and was likely outcompeted by ancestors of some of the canines living today: wolves, coyotes and foxes.
The name of the new species honors Xiaoming Wang, curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and an expert on mammalian carnivores.
(Illustration from “Dogs, Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History,” courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 12th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ancient, animals, choptank, cynarctus wangi, dog, dogs, evolution, fossil, fossils, hyenas, identified, maryland, pets, species
Bored as I’ve become with the whole “bucket list” concept — for humans and dogs — I couldn’t help but being impressed with Subaru’s Impreza ad.
Subaru turns to dogs for its advertising more than any car maker — and continues to put out better ones than any car maker, even as other companies begin to catch on to the power pooches have in marketing.
This one reminded me of the year-long trip and Ace took across America five years ago, We didn’t called it a bucket list, preferring to have the fun we had before our bones got too creaky, and before one or both of us was on death’s doorstep.
(We called it Travels with Ace. It never turned into a published book, but you can read almost all of it here.)
Those include a brand new show to chew on, an unauthorized dip in a motel pool, a bone for the dog’s 14th birthday, reuniting with an ex-lover and more — all with Willie Nelson singing in the background.
The tag line: “It’s not just the miles in life; it’s what you make of them.”
Carmichael Lynch, the advertising agency, cast an 11-year-old rescue dog named Monkey in the lead role.
Willie Nelson, an avid animal rights activist, gave the agency permission to use the song — “I’ve Loved You All Over the World” — at a reduced rate.
Subaru launched the spot last July.
You can find more of our “Woof in Advertising” posts — looking at how dogs are used in marketing — here.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 10th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ads, advertising, animals, bucket list, dog, dogs, dogs in advertising, dream, dream weekend, impreza, marketing, pets, subaru, weekend, willie nelson, woof in advertising
If you were built like a bowling ball, you too might have a propensity for rolling.
Bulldogs sure seem to.
Sophie was just a two-month old pup when her owners noted how much she liked rolling, caught it on camera and posted it on YouTube. It would turn out to be the first in a series of rolling Sophie videos.
“Usually she just throws herself onto her back and rolls around but the first few times she did it she happened to be on a sloping hill … I just set her down to go potty and as you see in the video, she threw herself down on the ground and rolled down the hill,” her owner wrote in a YouTube post.
“I picked her up, terrified that she had ‘fallen’ down this hill but I put her back down and she just did it again and again, 4 more times with such gusto we realized she was just having a ball! We were a bit afraid that she had ‘issues’ but she’s perfectly fine. We contacted the breeder and it turns out Sophie’s mother did the same thing.”
More recently, another rolling bulldog debuted on the Internet and quickly went viral:
So what’s behind it?
One plausible theory could be, in addition to seeming to enjoy the activity, they may be scratching some itches.
Given how humans have shaped the breed, an English Bulldog — with its short legs, short neck, and non-existent snout — isn’t able to reach too many parts of its body with its paws or mouth.
Human manipulation of the breed has led to far more severe, and less laughable, problems than that, including having heads so large most have to be born through C-sections. But they’ve adapted to the shape we’ve given them — at least in this regard.
They let the ground be their back scratcher. They roll over and squirm around on their backs — even though getting in and out of that position is sometimes a struggle.
To cope with that, they find a good hill, allow momentum do its job, and let the good times roll.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, back, breeding, breeds, bulldog, bulldogs, dogs, hills, manipulating, pets, reason, rolled, rolling, rolls, scratch, video, videos
One abused dog comforted another this week at a veterinary clinic in South Carolina, and this saintly image of their meeting is one for the scrapbook.
Sammie, on the table, is a three to four-month old puppy who has dragged behind a car, shot in the head and spray painted.
He was dropped off at a shelter by a woman who claimed he was a stray and said she had brought him there “because he wouldn’t die,” according to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.
While that’s still a possibility, Sammie, a boxer mix, is being treated for a bullet hole in his head and two seriously injured legs, one of which he may end up losing. He underwent three hours of surgery on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, another dog at the clinic, a border collie named Simon, found his way into the room where Sammie was, and offered what — to human eyes — appears to be some comfort.
Simon also was a victim of some abuse and neglect, and is currently being treated for mange.
Both were rescued from shelters in South Carolina, and ended up at the same vet in Columbia, thanks to the efforts of Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.
You can read more about Sammie’s story on the organization’s Facebook page.
Contributions to help pay for Sammie’s continuing medical care can be made through a YouCaring page set up by Rescue Dogs Rock.
Rescue Dogs Rock is a not for profit animal rescue founded in 2015 whose mission is to raise awareness of the plight of homeless animals — both those in shelters and those who are strays.
(Photos: Rescue Dogs Rock NYC)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 6th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, animals, columbia, comfort, comforting, cruelty, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, dragged, neglected, painted, pets, photo, photograph, rescue, rescue dogs rock, rescue dogs rock nyc, sammie, shelter, shot, simon, south carolina, veterinarian
Paw-ternity leave, not an entirely new concept, is drawing some major attention this week — the root of which, best I can figure, was a story in London’s Daily Mirror.
To read the headlines that one story has spawned in the echo chamber that is the Internet you’d think giving employees paid time off when they get a new dog was an idea that was sweeping the nation, if not the globe.
Not quite — though we wouldn’t mind if it did.
The Mirror story mentions two companies in the UK — one of them being Mars Petcare, which provides 10 hours of paid leave for employees with new pets, the other being a small British tech support company whose owner offers up to three weeks of paid leave when employees bring a new pet home.
“Pets are like babies nowadays so why shouldn’t staff have some time off when they arrive?” said Greg Buchanan, who owns Manchester-based IT company BitSol Solutions. “The first few weeks of a dog moving to a new home is a really important time, especially (with) puppies.”
“I don’t have kids myself but I do have dogs and I understand how much they mean to people,” he added.
In an interview with USA Today, Buchanan said he took a week off from work to help a new puppy get settled in his home.
“We got a puppy from a rescue home and we realized it needed to be looked after properly, so I took a week off to ensure it was welcomed into the home, and to set boundaries for the dogs. You know, ‘You can’t chew the couch’ and ‘You can’t jump on the television,’ things like that. And it went from there, and my dog is now better for it,” says Buchanan.
After that, he began offering employees paid leaves when they got a new pet. He says the policy has helped improve office morale.
The Mirror article also cites a survey by pet insurance provider Petplan that found almost one in 20 new pet owners in the UK has taken paw-ternity leave.
“The rise in new pet owners taking paw-ternity leave indicates that people recognize the importance of settling in new pets with the right support and care,” said Petplan’s Isabella von Mesterhazy. “The early days of a kitten or puppy’s life are a vital part of the pet’s early development – especially for them to become a proper part of the family.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 5th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bitsol, bitsol solutions, dog, dogs, employees, employers, england, home, leave, london, mars petcare, new, new dogs, paid leave, paw-ternity, paw-ternity leave, pawternity, pawternity leave, pets, uk, work
Even though this may be more marketing than science, we can’t help but like the results of this experiment in Australia.
Researchers, in an experiment funded by Pedigree, found that not only do our heart rates lower when we and our pets are together (as everybody knows by now), but they begin to mirror one another.
True, only three dogs and owners were involved in the study. True, the main interest of the company that sponsored it is to sell dog food. And true, what’s new about their findings — how closely the heart rates align — is probably of more poetic than practical use.
But still … It’s good to have a little science (if it can be called that) confirm our feelings of being in sync with our dogs.
In the experiment, three Australian dog owners separated, and then reunited with their pet in a staged but homey setting to see what kind of effect they had on each other’s heart rate.
Both dogs and owners were equipped with heart monitors.
“There was a really strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and we saw a reduction straight away,” Mia Cobb, canine scientist and demonstration co-conductor told The Huffington Post Australia.
“This project is a really good illustration of what most owners experience every night when they come home from work and are reunited with their companion,” she added.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: align, aligned, alignment, animals, australia, beating, benefits, dog, dogs, experiment, health, heart, heart rate, heart rates, heartbeat, human, in sync, lower, owners, pedigree, pets, science, stress, study
Here’s another special report from your favorite worry wart.
No sooner do I bemoan one high-tech invention for dog owners than another comes rolling along, equally worth fretting about.
This one is a 3-inch remotely controlled orange ball, with a high-def camera inside, that you can watch and listen to on your cell phone.
Its makers boast it will “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Let’s hope not.
It’s called PlayDate, now in the Indygogoing stage, and like many other contraptions hitting the market, it’s designed to make all the time your dog spends alone more bearable for him, and more entertaining and guilt-free for you.
The problem I have with that, as I’ve stated before, is how it lets dog owners shrug off the responsibility of dog ownership and diminishes the bond between dog and owner.
What I fret about is that the “future of human-pet interactions” could be long-distance, computer-assisted, virtual and heartless — exactly opposite of what dogs need, and exactly opposite of the reasons for having a dog in the first place.
A Manhattan inventor has come up with what the New York Post called “the next big thing for man’s best friend.”
Company co-founder Kevin Li says he got the idea for PlayDate after adopting his Rhodesian ridgeback-Lab mix, Hulk, three years ago.
“Looking at his sad face every time I left for work, I realized he … needed more time with his best friend.”
So Li (and we hope he worked from home at least a little bit) invented a ball for Hulk to play with — one he could control remotely, issue commands through, observe his dog through, and make squeak.
An adjunct computer-science professor at Columbia, Li described the $249 gadget as “Fitbit meets iPhone localization.”
He has already raised more than $200,000 on Indiegogo and has sold out of pre-orders.
With the rechargable ball, a pet owner can watch and listen to their pet, take photos, and record video, all from their iOS or Android device.
A stabilized camera inside provides real-time HD images. And a clear, replaceable outer shell protects the inner workings while allowing the camera — slobber aside — to see out clearly.
There are just three simple steps, its makers say: Download the free app, connect to wi-fi and “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”
Sorry, but talk like that scares me, as do a few other things.
The shell of the ball is made of a strong, chew-resistant polycarbonate, designed to withstand rambunctious play, according to its makers.
I hope that has been well tested, because I’d prefer not to think about what swallowing a little camera and a lithium polymer battery might do to a dog (or cat).
In the world of pet products, many a toy marketed as indestructible has proved otherwise.
Even PlayDate’s makers are saying that part might take some fine tuning:
“As we put PlayDate’s smart ball in front of more dogs and cats, we may discover the need to make aspects of its design more robust; any pet owner will tell you there’s no such thing as an indestructible toy. We have purposefully designed features like the replaceable outer shell with this in mind. Additional design changes may be required as we perform more testing.”
And what, I wonder, will be the effect of communicating with — and issuing orders to — your dog via an orange ball? Seeing an orange ball wandering around the house on its own, and hearing a disembodied voice come from it would, at the very least, be confusing, I’d think.
I’m all for keeping a dog active, engaged and feeling loved when the owner is away. But it’s a mistake to assume that technology can make up for failing to give your dog adequate attention.
And — needless to say — one shouldn’t get a dog in the first place if one is unwilling or unable to give him or her their time.
Face-time, I mean, with no cameras, or wi-fi, or remote controls involved.
Before we usher human-pet interaction “into the future,” it might be wise to question whether we really need to take that trip.
Didn’t we pretty much have it down just fine already — most of us, anyway?
(Photo: from PlayDate’s website)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 3rd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attention, babysitter, ball, bond, camera, communication, dog, dogs, dogs and technology, humans, inventions, pet, pet ownership, pets, playdate, products, remote, remote control, responsibility, technology, toy, toys, wi-fi