Hang in there, it’s Friday! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
What’s your favorite dog-friendly store? Now that Barli is done with his therapy dog training class, I’m working to get him out and into stores as much as possible to work on his skills…
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Happy Boston Marathon Day! Can I just say that I love that this dog is named Spencer, (I’m assuming) after the famous fictional private investigator based in Boston. Remember Spencer for Hire on television? He was from a series of books by Robert B. Parker, which I highly recommend for those of you who like […]
I have to admit that I love sago palms. I love the look of them and the tropical feel they give a yard. But we don’t have a sago palm — and we’ll never have a sago palm —…
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Whether you know me in real life or through this blog, you’re probably aware of the fact that I love Mexican food. I mean, love. And lucky for me, everyone in my house loves it too, so we eat it in some form at least a couple of times a week. Today I thought I’d share a round up of a dozen of my favorite Mexican food inspired recipes I’ve created for Bubby and Bean over the last couple of years. Most are my own takes and admittedly not authentically Mexican, but in one way or another they are inspired by our travels to Mexico and what I consider to be the most delicious cuisine in the world. And best of all, they’re all simple and easy to prepare. Just click on the images or links below them to view each recipe in full.
Anyone else a big fan of Mexican food? What’s your favorite recipe?
So if you thought the gray wolf species complex is controversial, it mirrored in another charismatic, widespread species.
I used to be quite into domestic ducks. My preferred variants were all domesticated Eurasian mallards, and I regularly encountered wild mallards at the various parks I would frequent in Morgantown, West Virginia.
I have no problem considering Pekins, Cayugas, Khaki Campbell’s, and Rouens just domestic variants of mallard. Most domestic mallard varieties cannot fly, and many lack proper brooding instincts and could never really exist in the wild. However, domestic duck genes do get into the wild mallard population every so often. So in this way, domestic ducks are to mallards what domestic dogs are to gray wolves.
But the analogy gets even more interesting. There are endemic mallards in North America that are often regarded as distinct species, and most experts would regard them as distinct species. However, they could easily be thought of as regional variants of what is really a mallard complex.
The most common endemic North American mallard is the black duck. The black duck is a large mallard that behaves almost exactly like the more common form. However, the drakes never develop the green heads or chestnut breasts. They never get that ornate gray penciling on their plumage. They are heavily mottled, rather dark large mallards.
Most authorities regard this creature as a distinct species, but a good case can be made that American black ducks are a regional form of mallard. They live over Northeastern and Midwestern states. They breed extensively in Eastern Canada and the Northern Great Lakes.
One hypothesis is that these ducks are descended from an early radiation of the ancestral mallard that adapted to living in bodies of water surrounded by extensive forests. Because there was so much predation in those areas, the ducks had a strong selection pressure never to evolve the ornate plumage of the more typical mallard.
These ducks evolved into a distinct population from Northeastern Mexico to Florida, which is called the mottled duck. The mottled duck is usually considered a distinct species as well.
And in deeper into Mexico, there is the Mexican duck, which is probably derived from black duck population.
One weird thing, though, is that mallards and black ducks really do not recognize much of a species barrier. Indeed, the genetic difference between black ducks and mallards appears to be decreasing.
Maybe a better reading of black duck taxonomy is that black ducks just represent a form of mallard that adapted to living in high predator density forests, and now that the forests have been opened, the more open country forms of mallard in which the drakes have ostentatious plumage have invaded their range.
And they have started to hybridize significantly.
Most waterfowl experts would disagree with me on this question, but the truth is the molecular work on mallards and their relatives is far behind canids. And yes, we do know that lots of Anas ducks hybridize. Hybridization itself is not a very good species indicator within these species, but if it is as significant as it is between black ducks and mallards, then we have to reconsider our classification.
I would love to see full genome comparisons of the various ducks in the genus Anas. We need to get a better idea of when all these various ducks diverged from a common ancestor and get a full handle on how much hybridization has happened.
Gadwalls are also somewhere in this mess. They might be an early offshoot of mallards that adapted to truly open environments, but I would not be surprised if their hybridization was at a level comparable to that of black ducks and mallards.
So we need more molecular work on these ducks. Their evolutionary history has quite strong parallels in the gray wolf complex, including their wide distribution, lots of hybridization between populations, and domestic form that casts a few genes into the wild population every once in a while.
The only way to resolve these issues is to have comparisons of full genomes. My guess is that we will someday, but until now, we’re still basing species on mtDNA samples and very limited genetic markers.
A lot of the popular reaction to new discovery of a 42.6-million-year-old amphibious whale in Peru has focused on the fact that this whale had four legs. Yeah, four-legged amphibious whales first appeared in South Asia 50 million years ago, with most famous one being Pakicetus.
However, this reaction to this new discovery merely tells me that most people are unaware of how much we know about whale evolution. Whales and dolphin, in case you didn’t know, are actually a subset of artiodactyls. Artiodactyla is the same order that includes pigs, sheep, antelope, giraffes, cattle, and camels, and when scientists began to classify whales and dolphins this way, some creationist wag posted a strawman that scientists believed that whales evolved from cows.
No. Whales and dolphins are actually derived an ancestor that was very close the common ancestor of hippopotamuses. The clade that includes hippos and whales and dolphins is called Whippomorpha. Literally, they just combined the word “whale” and “hippo” to create this name.
Hippos are actually much more closely related to whales and dolphins than they are to other artiodactyls, and because whales and dolphins are so well-nested in Artiodactyla, some experts now call the order Cetartiodactyla, combing the word “Cetacean” with the word “Artiodactyla.” I personally don’t do this because we could just as easily renamed Carnivora “Pinnipedavora” because phocid seals, otariid seals, and the walrus are all derived from caniform ancestors.
Whales and dolphins, though, are derived from land-based artiodactyls. They are not derived from cows or any ruminants, though. Ruminants are highly specialized plant-eating mammals, which have a multi-chambered stomach to deal with the hard cellulose and fiber of their diets.
50 million years ago, though, there were many omnivorous and carnivorous artiodactyls. Mesonychids, which were quite numerous millions of years before whales evolved, were essentially artiodactyl wolves that ran down their prey on hoofed feet. When I was first reading about whale evolution as a teenager, it was believed that whales derived from Mesonychids, but now we have a more complete view of their evolution.
Pakicetus first appeared in the fossil record of South Asia. It was a sort of a semi-aquatic artiodactyl wolf, which then gave rise to Ambulocetus, a sort of mammalian crocodile-like creature.
From South Asia, these primitive whales entered the sea, and over time, they evolved into more and more specialized animals.
Four-legged whales have been found North America and Africa, but there has long been a debate about how whales dispersed from South Asia into the oceans of the world.
The discovery of this new extinct whale species called Peregocetus pacificus in Peru suggests that South Asian amphibious whales entered the now defunct Tethys Sea (which included the Mediterranean but went much further east), swam down around the Atlantic Coast of Africa, crossed the narrow distance of the Atlantic to enter South America, and then colonized North America. This colonization took about 10 million years after the whales began to become creatures of the water.
So yeah, we know a lot more about whale evolution now because of this discovery, and now the public knows that four-legged whales really were a thing.
Just like humans, pets deserve a special treat every so often, and times like these call for dog owners to go out of their way to do something their dogs will love. Surprises of this nature go a long way in showing your canine companion that you appreciate them for all the unconditional love they give you.
Dog owners have all sorts of questions. Among the most commonly asked, is whether dogs should be given pig’s ears for a treat. To help make an informed decision, we provide the following advantages/disadvantages list:
1. It is almost impossible for a dog to turn down a pig’s ears dog treat. They find the chews simply delicious and will even love and obey you more. Perhaps this is the most appealing advantage of this type of dog’s chews. At the very least, you know that your gift will be received with a lot of joy and love.
2. Giving your dog pig’s ears allows you to kill two birds using one stone. Apart from it being a gesture of appreciation, you get to capitalize on the benefit the chews have on your dog’s teeth. The chews keep your companion’s teeth clean and the gums healthy, and this translates to fresh breath. Furthermore, the chews are also odorless.
3. Since these type of chews have a thick hide and density, they permit easy chewing particularly for small dogs, delicate chewers, as well as senior dogs.
4. Compared to other dog chews, pig’s ears are relatively inexpensive and readily available. They are sold both online and in local pet stores.
1. This type of dog chews is associated with a dangerous level of fat – especially for dogs that are prone to obesity. As such, if you decide to administer it to your dog, moderate the intake.
2. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, stay clear of pig’s ears chews as they may cause vomiting or diarrhea.
3. Sometimes, pig’s ears are infected with salmonella bacteria; an infection that can lead to gastrointestinal infection. Some of the symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, lethargy, and vomiting. For this reason, the chews should only be purchased from a reputable company. Ensure that your source usually conducts heat treatment on their products for about half a day. Heat treatment is an effective way of eliminating possible bacteria.
Note: salmonella is transmittable from pigs or dogs to humans – the more reasons you should handle dog’s feces carefully. Also, remember to wash your hands thoroughly after interacting with the chews.
When administered as a treat, pig’s ears are a good way of rewarding your dog for their company, love, and obedience. As long as you observe safety rules, they are the best for small dogs, senior dogs, and delicate chewers. To prevent or curb incidences of digestive obstructions, choking and the consequences of the highly sensitive stomach, supervise your dog while it chews.