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Earth Science

Wolves May Be 'Re-Domesticating' Into Dogs (sciencemag.org) 95

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: It happened thousands of years ago, and it may be happening again: Wolves in various parts of the world may have started on the path to becoming dogs. That's the conclusion of a new study, which finds that the animals are increasingly dining on livestock and human garbage instead of their wild prey, inching closer and closer to the human world in some places. But given today's industrialized societies, this closeness might also bring humans and wolves into more conflict, with disastrous consequences for both. To find out how gray wolves might be affected by eating more people food, Thomas Newsome, an evolutionary biologist at the Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues examined studies of what's happened to other large carnivores that live close to people. Newsome's 2014 study of a dingo population in Australia's Tanami Desert showed that the wild dogs' habit of dining almost exclusively on junk food at a waste management facility had made them fat and less aggressive. They were also more likely to mate with local dogs and had become "cheeky," says Newsome, daring to run between his legs as he set out traps for them. Most intriguingly, the dumpster dingoes' population formed a genetic cluster distinct from all other dingoes -- indicating that they were becoming genetically isolated, a key step in forming a new species. Is this happening to gray wolves? The conditions are ripe for it, says Newsome, noting that human foods already make up 32% of gray wolf diets around the world. The animals now mostly range across remote regions of Eurasia and North America, yet some are returning to developed areas. The paper has been published in the journal Bioscience.
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Wolves May Be 'Re-Domesticating' Into Dogs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, 2017 @05:10AM (#54197433)

    But given today's industrialized societies, this closeness might also bring humans and wolves into more conflict, with disastrous consequences for both

    How could that have "disastrous" consequences for humans? If a group of wolves say inflict a few deaths on humans (nothing like the numbers from say boating accidents let alone road deaths) then the wolves will be wiped out. That may be a shame or even a tragedy but the potential disastrousness from conflict here is only for the wolves.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know how true it is. But studies have been done that say wolves are definitely good for the environment. The help keep the elk population in check.

      I would think that wolves would stop hunting if they have found a constant food source though such as a garbage dump. They would just become a menace.

    • When you play a game like Jenga, do you say "I don't see how this tower could fall" every time you pull out a piece?
    • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

      Humans, not humanity. "If a group of wolves say inflict a few deaths on humans" it IS disastrous for said humans

    • But given today's industrialized societies, this closeness might also bring humans and wolves into more conflict, with disastrous consequences for both

      How could that have "disastrous" consequences for humans?

      I should introduce you to my next door neighbor.

  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @05:23AM (#54197475)

    It happened thousands of years ago, and it may be happening again

    So bark we all!

    • It happened thousands of years ago, and it may be happening again

      So bark we all!

      Especially the cheeky dingos!

  • The domestication into dogs was the result of introducing wolfs into society from when they where puppies and active breeding. Just having wolfs living closer to humans won't domesticate them, just like birds and other animals that practically like on top of us aren't domesticated.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh my God are you dumb. WOLFS? Active breeding with what .. other WOLVES? Birds don't domesticate so I don't know what drugs you are on man..

    • The domestication into dogs was the result of introducing wolfs into society from when they where puppies and active breeding. Just having wolfs living closer to humans won't domesticate them, just like birds and other animals that practically like on top of us aren't domesticated.

      They are talking about the genetic isolation part of evolution. You are correct about the final steps of becoming domesticated dogs.

      If I know people, and I do, there will likely be a wolf rescue, and in some number of generations, we'll have fully domesticated wolfdogs. We do have semi-domesticated wolves already, a few in my neighborhood, just not ones from dumpster diver variety. Gorgeous critters.

      • Will some domesticated dogs go feral and become dogwolves?

        • Will some domesticated dogs go feral and become dogwolves?

          They can if they haven't been too messed with by breeding. A Pug or Bulldog is going to have problems. From what I understand, natural breeding of feral dogs tends to bring them back in a few generations to the archetype known as the long-term pariah morphotype. This resembles the original dog breeds which are a subspecies of wolves, so they aren't likely to "re-wolf".

          The Dingo is a pretty good example of this.

          The long-term pariah morphotype of dogs is probably good to keep around, because we have a t

          • Interesting. I knew that feral pigs start to look like wild boar within a few generations but I wasn't aware of a similar thing with dogs.

            • These dogs are all over the third world. The "feral reversion" dog has pointy ears, short-medium fur, and weighs around 50 pounds. Also see Australian and Carolina dingoes.
    • The secret to producing a dog is to encourage continued juvenile behaviors; neoteny. A wolf is actually a pretty useless pet, while they are a social animal, they are high strung and unreliable. However, as likely happened the other times wolves have been domesticated, those wolves who are a little less high strung, who can form even a marginally stronger social bond with humans, will be tolerated, whereas the wilder members will either be killed or driven off. And really, it actually only takes a few gener

      • If we did the same thing with wolves wouldn't we just be reinventing dogs?

        I do like the idea of a pet fox, though.

  • I think they're just being smart. Why have to forage when you have an all-you-can-eat buffet in your backyard?
  • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @06:31AM (#54197587)

    and it wont result in dogs 2.0

    It wasnt just proximity to humans that cause the first domestication event in wolves (or really, several parallel events), but conditions that also resulted animals with less aggression, which was then amplified by captive breeding.

    this event isnt structured to provide that reduction in aggression.
    but it will provide an increase in guile.

    this isnt dogs 2.0
    this is coyotes 2.0

    • Epigenetics can do the job, just as wolves that seek out human contact are also already predisposed to be less aggressive to begin with. I'd take one as a pet. They're more intelligent than dogs.
  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @07:40AM (#54197739) Homepage Journal

    Alaska, Bears will enter a bus to eat workers lunches.

    Deer, suburbs are entering their area so they have to raid what they can till captured as someone will call about them.

    Yellowstone, Bears have entered cars through windows forcing people to exit while it searches for food.

    One doesn't feed or allow animals to find a source of food or they will make it a habit.

    • Claiming that for deer a certain area is theirs is just silly. Deer, like most animals, will breed to limit of the food supply and predation, and expand the area they inhabit to get more food or just by purposeless roaming. Deer will repopulate an area that has been open farmland for a century if it's reforested.
    • 3 bear cubs got themselves locked in a park outhouse [www.cbc.ca]. Rangers can't figure out how hat happened. Guess that the old question "Does a bear shit in the woods?" needs to be answered "not necessarily" now.
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Rangers can't figure out how hat happened.

        Simple, actually. Building codes in Canada encourage (require?) the installation of door handles instead of knobs. But bears have figured out how to operate the handles to gain access to the soft, chewy goodies inside [economist.com]. Mom probably opened the door and the cubs walked in.

        • No, Canadian building codes don't require any such thing. Don't know where you got that from. Maybe because the city of Vancouver (known as La-la land to the rest of the country) banned door knobs in new construction in 2014, but then again, it's Vancouver. They live in a different world.
          • by PPH ( 736903 )

            Canadian codes don't require it as of yet. But other municipalities and the federal body responsible for codes are "open to considering the measure".

            Don't know where you got that from.

            From the article I linked.

            but then again, it's Vancouver. They live in a different world.

            Vancouver is to Canada as California is to the rest of the USA. They are a bunch of clueless, stoned hippies. But sooner or later, whatever they do starts to seem like a good idea to everyone else. And so the rest of the country follows.

            • Vancouver is to Canada as California is to the rest of the USA.

              Wow, please look at a map. Vancouver is a city, not a state, territory, or province.

              • by PPH ( 736903 )

                Vancouver is a special snowflake, just like California. Geopolitical terminology doesn't matter when they are going to get their way or throw a hissy-fit.

                • It's not that special any more. Large sections are empty [theguardian.com] because people bought condos as investments instead of to live in, creating an urban desert. Throw in the rain, and the smog, and the drugs, and the traffic, and the sky-high cost of housing, and you're better off on the mainland.
      • Looks like a fraternity prank to me.

        • I was thinking maybe a hunter illegally killed the mother, then lured the cubs into the outhouse (maybe by throwing his lunch in there) before making off with the body. The cubs have to be hand-fed, they're that young.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Not just bears [youtube.com]

  • People are too fucking lazy to buy a proper garbage can that is animal proof, they also think feeding the wildlife is helping. The problem is the education level of the population has continued a downward spiral and will only get worse.

  • Am I the only one that thinks "the Dumpster Dingos" would be a good name for a band?

  • As long as they don't start thinking digital watches are a good idea.
  • When a male dog meets a female wolf ...
  • Wolves' domestication is merely a step towards occupying the niche that has been held by humans over the past couple thousand years, which people are now abandoning as they increasingly begin to act like animals. I attribute this to the rise in 'furry' culture and animal avatars in Second Life, and the whole 'horse schlong' thing.

    People have also been observed repeatedly making swiping motions on their smartphones to navigate endless Javascript scrolls on social media platforms like Facebook, which is a re

  • We all know its because of global warming. thats what CNN told me. these scientists have just been paid by the Trump Administration to say this shit!

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    Documentary: "Meet The Coywolf"
  • ...and saw a cousin lounging on the couch and they want in on that.

  • My personal theory is that domestic dogs evolved from coy wolves, a cross between coyotes and wolves that are quite smart, adaptable, opportunistic... and have little fear of humans. Modern coy wolves appear to be attempting to interbreed with domestic canines. Like Captain Kirk, the obviously have no qualms against dating outside their own species.
  • It can be done pretty easily -- let people kill any wolves that come into populated areas, like they used to be allowed to do. The wolves that survive will be those that fear people and stick to the wilds.

    And it's not like it would actually endanger the wolves -- the IUCN listing for them is Least Concern. The "Endangered Species Act" listing of them as "endangered" merely indicated they were rare in the lower 48 states; Canada, Alaska, Russia, and China have plenty.

  • First, it's patently absurd to predict the "redomestication" of wolves based on studying the behavior of dingoes, domesticated dogs gone feral and now often mixed with other dog breeds.

    Second, the dependence on human garbage that the researchers posit is a fantasy of theirs. Wolf population density maps with their prey population density, not the garbage dump count.

    If "normal", natural apex predators are desired, controlling their own numbers as apex predators do and avoiding humans sharing their habi

  • coming soon to your local pet store.

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