Wolves survived the ice age as a single, global population

Image of a single wolf.

Enlarge / An Eastern Gray Wolf is a mix of Siberian ancestry and coyote DNA. (credit: Michael Cummings)

Man’s best friend was the first of many animals humans have domesticated. But there was no clear before-and-after moment where dogs were suddenly a distinct population of wolves. While some ancient skeletons are clearly dogs, there are a lot of ambiguous skeletons earlier than that. It’s possible to get a sense of what happened using the genomes of modern and ancient dogs. But this analysis depends heavily on what you think the wolf populations dogs were derived from look like.

Now, researchers have generated a much clearer picture of the last 100,000 years of wolf evolution. The picture it paints is a population that remained a single unit despite being spread across continents in the Arctic, with the population sporadically refreshed from a core centered in Siberia. Many breeds of dogs seem to have been derived from a population of East Asian wolves. But others seem to have also received significant input from a Middle East population—but it’s unclear whether that population was wolves or dogs.

Wolves around the north

The ability to sequence ancient DNA was essential to this new work, which involved obtaining DNA from 66 wolf skeletons that collectively span about 100,000 years of evolution, including most of the last ice age. Wolves are found in the Northern Hemisphere, and the skeletons used here tend to be closer to the Arctic (probably in part because DNA survives better in cooler climes). But they are widely distributed, with Europe, Asia, and North America represented. The researchers also included five ancient wolf genomes that others had analyzed, along with some genomes of modern wolves.

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#ancient-dna, #biology, #dogs, #evolution, #genomics, #science, #wolves

A Canine Companion So Nice It (Maybe) Evolved Twice

Two different ancient wolf populations contributed DNA to modern dogs, according to a new study.

#dogs, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #genetics-and-heredity, #pets, #research, #wolves, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Wolves, and Misinformation About Them, Make a California Comeback

For the past 10 years, wolves have been steadily returning to the state after being wiped out a century ago. But not everyone is rolling out the welcome mat.

#california, #cattle, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #hunting-and-trapping, #livestock, #rumors-and-misinformation, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wolves, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Wolves Will Regain Federal Protection

A federal judge has overturned the Trump-era decision that removed the predators from the Endangered Species List.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #decisions-and-verdicts, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wolves

Where to See Winter Wildlife in the U.S.

From great gray owls in Minnesota to bison in Central Florida (yes, Florida), there are innumerable opportunities this winter to view animals — in the wild and even on city streets.

#animals, #birds, #bison, #owls, #travel-and-vacations, #winter-season, #wolves

Wolves Are Being Slaughtered in the West

Wolves have thrived since returning to the Northern Rockies. Now they face relentless assault by hunters and trappers.

#booker-cory-a, #conservation-of-resources, #elk, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #gianforte-greg-1961, #house-of-representatives, #hunting-and-trapping, #idaho, #livestock, #montana, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #senate, #state-legislatures, #wolves, #wyoming, #yellowstone-national-park

The Ghost Wolves of Galveston Island

A population of strange canids in Texas could hold the key to reviving the highly endangered red wolf.

#animal-behavior, #animals, #breeding-of-animals, #coyotes, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #galveston-tex, #galveston-island-tex, #genetics-and-heredity, #research, #vonholdt-bridgett-m-1980, #wolves, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-photojournalism, #your-feed-science

After 8 Wolves Are Poisoned, Oregon Police Ask for Help

From February to July, an entire pack and three other wolves were found dead from poisoning, according to the authorities.

#endangered-and-extinct-species, #hunting-and-trapping, #oregon, #poisoning-and-poisons, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #wolves

Gray Wolf Pups Are Spotted in Colorado for the First Time in 80 Years

The litter was born amid a contentious plan to reintroduce the species to the state.

#colorado, #wolves

Wolves create a “landscape of fear,” slowing deer-car collisions

Image of two wolves.

Enlarge (credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / Getty images)

Deer don’t seem to understand that large, fast-moving vehicles can lead to their untimely demise. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 1.9 million animal (not just deer) collision claims in the US between July 2019 and the end of June 2020.

The ungulates seem to be capable of recognizing other threats, though. Deer understand that they should steer clear of wolves. And new research suggests that regions with wolves tend to have a markedly lower rate of deer-automobile collisions, as the predators scare their prey away from roadways. According to the study’s researchers, this indirect benefit of managing wolves in a region can save humans a lot of money.

The research, which focuses on counties in the Great Lakes region, began in 2013. Grey wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species Act in the Great Lakes region in 2012 as their population grew, but this reprieve was short-lived, as hunting caused the species to be re-listed in the area only around a year later.

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#car-crashes, #collisions, #deer, #highway, #reintroduction, #science, #wolves

Idaho Senate Approves Bill to Kill 90 Percent of State’s Wolves

The bill would allow the state to hire contractors to kill the wolves, which supporters say are threatening the livelihoods of Idaho’s ranchers.

#idaho, #law-and-legislation, #politics-and-government, #state-legislatures, #wolves

In Montana, Bears and Wolves Become Part of the Culture Wars

The politics of predators seem poised to enter a new chapter in the state, which now seems intent on reviving some of the practices of a century ago that virtually exterminated wolves from Montana.

#bears, #daines-steve, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #gianforte-greg-1961, #hunting-and-trapping, #montana, #republican-party, #wolves

Montana Governor Gets Written Warning After Killing a Wolf

Greg Gianforte did not complete a trapping certification course before trapping and killing a black wolf last month, a state wildlife official said.

#gianforte-greg-1961, #hunting-and-trapping, #montana, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #wolves, #yellowstone-national-park

The Making of a ‘European Yellowstone’

A major conservation effort is underway in Romania. The goal is a new national park that will rival its American counterparts.

#bears, #forests-and-forestry, #hunting-and-trapping, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #travel-and-vacations, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #wolves

Wisconsin Hunters Kill Over 200 Wolves in Less Than 3 Days

The gray wolf lost Endangered Species Act protections last year, prompting a recent hunt that killed at least 216 wolves — far exceeding a quota set by state wildlife officials.

#endangered-and-extinct-species, #humane-society-of-the-united-states, #wisconsin, #wolves

Dogs May Have Come From an Ice Age Meetup of Carnivores in Siberia

Researchers propose that some remote ancestors of Native Americans may have been the first humans to forge the bond with wolves that led to domestication.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #dogs, #durham-university, #larson-greger, #native-americans, #north-america, #oxford-university, #proceedings-of-the-national-academy-of-sciences, #siberia, #southern-methodist-university, #wolves, #your-feed-science

Dire wolves aren’t wolves at all—they form a distinct lineage with jackals

Two canid skeletons facing each other.

Enlarge (credit: Wikimedia commons)

Dire wolves had a burst of newfound fame with their appearance in Game of Thrones, where they were portrayed as a far larger version of more mundane wolves. Here in the real world, only the largest populations of present-day wolves get as large as the dire wolf, which weighed nearly 70 kilograms. These animals once shared North America—and likely prey—with predators like the smilodon, a saber-toothed cat. Prior to the arrival of humans, dire wolves were far more common than regular wolves, as indicated by the remains found in the La Brea tar seeps, where they outnumber gray wolves by a factor of about 100.

Like the smilodon and many other large North American mammals, the dire wolf vanished during a period of climate change and the arrival of humans to the continent, even as gray wolves and coyotes survived. And with their departure, they left behind a bit of a mystery: what were they?

A new study uses ancient DNA from dire wolf skeletons to determine that they weren’t actually wolves and had been genetically isolated from them for millions of years.

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#dire-wolves, #dogs, #evolution, #genetics, #genomics, #paleontology, #science, #wolves

The Real Dire Wolf Ran Into an Evolutionary Dead End

The species’ remarkable genetic isolation from other wolves may have contributed to its demise.

#dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #game-of-thrones-tv-program, #genetics-and-heredity, #nature-journal, #north-america, #paleontology, #research, #wolves, #your-feed-science

The Leftovers Route to Dog Domestication

If ancient hunters ate the juicy fat parts of their prey and gave wolves the lean meat, it could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #arctic-regions, #dogs, #finland, #ice-age, #research, #university-of-exeter, #wolves, #your-feed-science

Barry Lopez, Lyrical Writer Who Was Likened to Thoreau, Dies at 75

Mr. Lopez spent five years in the Arctic, and his books, essays and short stories explored the kinship of nature and human culture.

#books-and-literature, #deaths-obituaries, #lopez-barry-1945, #oregon, #states-us, #wolves

Yukon gold miner unearths a mummified Ice Age wolf pup

Color photo of wolf mummy puppy laying on a pillow

Enlarge / The puppy’s remains are dried out but mostly intact thanks to being buried in permafrost. (credit: Government of Yukon)

This Ice Age wolf puppy doesn’t look much like a fearsome predator, what with her tiny puppy teeth and soft little ears. According to her DNA, however, the mummified puppy, named Zhùr, came from a population that’s among the ancestors of all modern wolves. Canada’s permafrost freeze-dried her remains shortly after her death around 57,000 years ago.

“She’s the most complete wolf mummy that’s ever been found. She’s basically 100 percent intact—all that’s missing are her eyes,” said Des Moines University paleontologist Julie Meachen.

Puppy surprise

In July 2016, miner Neil Loveless of Favron Enterprises was searching for gold in Alaska’s famed Klondike gold fields. He was water-blasting the frozen mud along the banks of Last Chance Creek. It’s a process called “hydraulic thawing,” meant to thaw and soften the frozen permafrost so miners can search for gold in the streambed deposits, an approach called placer mining. But Loveless found something far stranger and even more interesting than Klondike gold: a frozen, mummified wolf puppy.

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#ancient-dna, #gold-mining, #klondike, #mummies, #paleontology, #permafrost, #pleistocene, #science, #wolves, #yukon

A Wolf Pup Mummy From the Ancient Arctic

Melting permafrost yields secrets of how a 6-week-old wolf puppy lived and died.

#arctic-regions, #current-biology-journal, #global-warming, #ice-age, #mummies-and-mummification, #paleontology, #wolves, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science, #yukon-beringia-interpretive-center, #yukon-territory

Monster Wolf Robot Aims to Scare Bears in Japan

After bears kept venturing into the city in search of food, officials installed mechanical wolves with bared teeth, glowing red eyes and a fearsome screech to keep the animals away.

#bears, #japan, #robots-and-robotics, #wolves

To Scare Off Wild Bears, Japanese City Calls In the ‘Monster Wolf’

After bears kept venturing into the city in search of food, officials installed mechanical wolves with bared teeth, glowing red eyes and a fearsome screech to keep the animals away.

#bears, #japan, #robots-and-robotics, #wolves

Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease

Some scientists say that the predators are essential to curbing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease because they pick off weak deer.

#chronic-wasting-disease, #deer, #elk, #environment, #hunting-and-trapping, #research, #wolves, #yellowstone-national-park, #your-feed-science

Wolves to Drop From Endangered Species List in U.S.

Populations have rebounded in recent decades, but some scientists on the panel that evaluated the proposal said it was deeply flawed.

#endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #wolves

Ancient Dog DNA Shows Early Spread Around the Globe

Research on fossil canine genomes is expanding and producing some surprises about the lives of dogs and humans in prehistoric times.

#anatolia, #dogs, #europe, #genetics-and-heredity, #paleontology, #pigs, #research, #science-journal, #wolves, #your-feed-science

Canadian Military’s Wolf Exercise Alarms Nova Scotians

They also mounted speakers that broadcast growling in the woods of Nova Scotia. It was all part of a psychological training exercise.

#bay-of-fundy-canada, #canada, #defense-and-military-forces, #exercise, #letters, #nova-scotia-canada, #ottawa-citizen-the, #rumors-and-misinformation, #wolves

Dog Breeding in the Neolithic Age

Fossils and modern DNA show the ancient roots of Arctic sled dogs.

#alaska, #arctic-regions, #dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #dog-sledding, #dogs, #europe, #genetics-and-heredity, #greenland, #national-institutes-of-health, #siberia, #university-of-california-santa-cruz, #university-of-copenhagen, #wolves, #your-feed-science

A Soft-Handed Predator Masquerading in Manliness

How we treat animals tells us something about how we treat one another.

#alaska, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #bears, #hunting-and-trapping, #trump-donald-j, #trump-donald-j-jr, #wolves