Wednesday

Wolves lack the facial muscles required to raise their eyebrows—a feature that makes dogs especially endearing to people.

You know the look. Everyone does. The wide, winsome eyes; the forlorn, furrowed brow. It’s enough to melt your heart—and send your hand reaching for the treat bag.

But the next time your dog fixes you with that sorrowful stare, take comfort (or chagrin) in the knowledge that she—and the rest of the world’s pet pooches—could owe their expressive eyes entirely to us.

According to new research published today in the journal PNAS, the allure of puppy dog eyes may be a product of domestication, acquired as a lineage of charismatic canines split off from wolves. While their wild ancestors lack the necessary facial anatomy to raise their inner eyebrows, dogs possess certain muscles that, when put to use, make their mugs resemble ours—something that may have piqued the interest of ancient peoples.

These brow-raising results hint that, on the road to becoming our closest companions, dogs may have evolved a way to hijack, or at least mimic, a core tenet of human communication: eye contact.

“Eye contact is central to human communicative skills,” says Aleah Bowie, a conservation psychologist at Duke University who was not involved in the study. “So it makes sense if we’re selecting for non-human animals [like dogs], we’re going to look for the same kind of traits.”


In other words, the power of puppy dog eyes is rooted not so subtly in a bit of egocentrism: Wide, expressive eyes remind us of human babies, or a person on the verge of tears—emotive extremes of ourselves.

And dogs, it seems, have reaped the benefits of this facial familiarity. There’s even evidence to suggest mutts who raise their inner eyebrows more often even get adopted more quickly from shelters.

Of course, shelters didn’t exist tens of thousands of years ago, when people first cozied up with a subset of unusually friendly wolves. But that doesn’t mean a similar process wasn’t happening in the early days of domestication: In gravitating toward friendlier canines, humans might have inadvertently reshaped an entire lineage, altering traits both physical and psychological.


If that’s the case, then wolves might be expected to show less puppy-eyed prowess—or even lack some of the anatomical accoutrements necessary to maneuver their brows.

To put this theory to the test, a team of researchers led by Juliane Kaminski and Bridget Waller, both comparative psychologists at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, compared the facial muscles of six modern mutts and four gray wolves—a stand-in for domestic dogs’ long-gone wild ancestor. Though the two species’ faces were almost identical, almost all dogs tested possessed two extra muscles around their eyes that helped them raise their brows and pull their eyelids in certain directions—both movements that are, scientifically speaking, adorable.

“To see this kind of soft tissue change in the timespan of [dog domestication] is remarkable,” Waller says. The wolves, however, weren’t a “completely blank slate,” she adds. While the wolves didn’t have fully developed muscles, a few sparse muscle fibers existed in their place—just enough, she says, for evolution to “grab hold and make bigger, more uniform, and more stable in the dogs.”


Soft tissue like muscle doesn’t fossilize well, and a face-off between two modern species is just an approximation for gazing backwards in time. But already, the study presents a tantalizing hint of how these muscles may have beefed up over time. Only one dog breed studied lacked one of the two critical eye muscles: the Siberian Husky, which is more closely related to wolves than most other dog breeds. “This is suggestive of [an intermediate stage], but we need to follow up on this with other breeds,” Waller says.

To complement their anatomical findings, the researchers next filmed 27 shelter dogs and nine captive wolves for two minutes after a stranger approached them. As expected, dogs came out ahead in this face-off as well: On average, they raised their inner eyebrows more often, and seemed capable of producing more exaggerated movements with their eyes than their wolf cousins—findings in keeping with the team’s dissection.

“It’s really exciting to see a study exploring the connection between anatomy and behavior,” says Gitanjali Gnanadesikan, a cognitive biologist studying dog domestication at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the study. “In the process of domestication, both have changed in remarkable ways...and many of these changes are intertwined. Trying to understand how these different pieces fit together is extremely important.”


As eye-opening as the findings are, however, Gnanadesikan cautions that they raise “just as many questions as they answer...we still don’t know if these gazes contain information, or if dogs are intentionally trying to communicate with them.”

Figuring that out, she says, will require more studies on how these heart-wrenching stares are used in different contexts. Dogged gazes may tug on our heartstrings, but it’s important not to attribute too much to our canine comrades.

Even so, the study underscores the importance of facial expressions in communication, Waller says. That seems obvious. But it’s nonetheless notable, she says, just how much humans’ penchant for emotion has shaped our interactions—with both our own species and others.

It may not have been intentional on our part, or theirs. Either way, these pooches’ expressive eyes continue to get them out of the doghouse. And for anyone who’s ever fed Fido scraps under the table, or forgiven the massacre of an unlucky shoe, it’s clear that these looks of longing have yet to lose their luster.
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Tuesday

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed legislation this week that bans animal abusers in the state from being able to own a pet for up to five years.

The governor's office said in a release that he signed the legislation, also known as "Animal Ban For Cruelty To Animals Conviction," as one of several efforts to commemorate Animal Welfare Day in the state on Wednesday.

Under the legislation, the bill states that a court can enter an "order prohibiting a person convicted of felony animal cruelty from owning a pet animal for a period of 3 to 5 years."

The bill also states that a juvenile convicted of animal cruelty can also be "adjudicated a delinquent for an animal cruelty crime from owning a pet animal."

Polis said the law will "increase restrictions of people convicted of felony pet animal cruelty, and facilitate mental health and treatments to address the underlying factors that drive tragic animal cruelty" in a statement seen by a local CBS station.

The governor also announced a new effort called the People for Animal Welfare (PAW) Committee in Colorado this week, which he called "an opportunity to look at what Colorado can do to protect our animals from cruelty and ensure their wellbeing."


According to his office, the committee will "play an advisory role on the state of issues related to animal welfare and animal protection in Colorado."

“We are thrilled to announce the PAW Committee today,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This is an opportunity to look at what Colorado can do to protect our animals from cruelty and ensure their wellbeing.”

The PAW Committee will play an advisory role on the state of issues related to animal welfare and animal protection in Colorado.

“This Committee is about protecting Colorado animals and giving them a voice,” said First Gentleman Reis. “There is so much great work happening in our state around animal welfare and the PAW Committee is an opportunity to bring together experts on these issues and make Colorado a national leader.”

“This Committee is made up of a variety of animal welfare experts,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera. “Their input will be critical to making Colorado a top state in protecting animals of all kinds.”

Monday

"The next full Moon will be on Monday morning, June 17, 2019, appearing "opposite" the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 4:31 AM EDT. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Saturday night through Tuesday morning," said NASA's Gordon Johnston.

This means you will have plenty of time to see it.

"The orbit of the Moon around the Earth is almost in the same plane as the orbit of the Earth around the Sun (only about 5 degrees off). When the Sun appears highest in the sky near the summer solstice, the full Moon opposite the Sun generally appears lowest in the sky. Particularly for Europe's higher latitudes, the full Moon nearest the summer solstice shines through more atmosphere than at other times of the year. This can give the full Moon a reddish or rose color (for much the same reasons that a rising or setting Sun appears red)," said Johnston.

Having said this it should be noted that the only times the moon takes a bold red hue is during a total lunar eclipse. This is when the Moon hides in the Earth’s shadow.

Moonrise. The best time to observe the full moon is when it rises or sets. As it appears on the southeastern horizon around sunset, it will be a delicate shade of orange, which eventually becomes a brighter yellow, brightening still as it rises above the horizon. The opposite happens at moonset at sunrise, though at this time of year that’s horribly early in the day.

In between these brief 15 minute periods of moonrise and moonset when the full moon is close to the horizon, the full moon is almost impossible to look at since the glare is just too much.


So you need to know exactly when moonrise is. Not only will it be a beautiful color, and show plenty of surface features, but it will also look relatively large as it appears on the horizon in the context of trees, buildings and/or hills.

June’s Full Strawberry Moon got its name because the Algonquin tribes knew it as a signal to gather ripening fruit. It was often known as the Full Rose Moon in Europe and the Honey Moon.

Native American Names for June Moon Leaves Moon (Cree). Ripe Berries (Dakota). Hoer moon (Abernaki). Windy Moon (Choctaw). Summer moon (Kiowa). Buffalo Moon (Omaha). Leaf Moon (Assiniboine). Corn Tassel Moon(Taos). Green grass Moon(Sioux). Ripening Moon (Mohawk). Turtle Moon (Potawatomi). Making fat Moon (Lakota).Leaf Dark Moon (San Juan). Major Planting Moon (Hopi). Planting Moon (Neo Pagan). Fish Spoils Moon (Wishram). Water melon Moon (Natchez). Hot Weather moon (Arapaho). Dyad Moon (Medieval English). Strawberry Moon (Anishnaabe). Dark green leaves Moon (Pueblo). Summer Moon (Passamaquoddy). Green Corn Moon, Flower Moon (Cherokee). Mead Moon (Full Janic), Strawberry moon (Dark Janic). Honey Moon, Hot Moon, Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon (Algonquin). Other Moon names : Hay Moon, Aerra Litha Moon, Strong Sun Moon, Lovers Moon Hot weather moon (Ponca).

VIDEO

Sunday

Peaceful co-existence between wolves and sheep farmers is possible, says regional director Europe at International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Joep van Mierlo.

It was Omroep Gelderland that bagged the scoop on May 19th: a wolf pair had settled in the Netherlands for the first time in over a century. The two were spotted in the Veluwe national park. The news was greeted with whoops of delight by many but the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is afraid that others are less enthusiastic and may take action.

Judging from the emotional responses triggered by the return of the wolf, it is easy to see why the animal became extinct in the Netherlands 140 years ago. This time around we must do everything we can to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

For decades the Netherlands has been conducting an environmental policy destined to lead to the return of the wolf. Over a 20 year period, hundreds of millions of euros were spent on the Natura 2000 network, the Flora and Fauna law and the list of protected species. These efforts in the area of rules and regulations, execution, enforcement and the creation of ecoducts are now resulting in the return of the wolf.

Perhaps farmers never thought it would come to this. Now that it has they are panicking and calling for wolves to be culled, just as in Germany. But killing wolves would amount to a direct destruction of this capital investment. Wolves contribute to our ecosystems and promote an already endangered biodiversity.

Wolves go after deer and boar. Their remains form the basis for the so-called ‘carrion fauna’. They attract smaller carrion eaters, like beetles and butterflies as well as bigger carrion eaters like badgers, stone martens, birds such as the ospreys and even griffon vultures. The excrement of all these animals are spread over large areas and restores the mineral cycle which is out of balance in many of the country’s nature reserves. The wolf plays a key role in this process.


There are ways that have been proven to be effective to keep wolves away from sheep. Simple electric fences are a deterrent to wolves and will limit contact to a minimum. By using netting, and other solutions, farmers and nature lovers together can keep both sheep and wolves safe. If they don’t the wolves in the Netherlands will be doomed – again.
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VIDEO

Saturday

A wolf was allegedly trapped and beaten to death after venturing into villages of Taltali upazila of Barguna recently. The poor animal came into conflict for killing the livestock.

Investigation revealed that the animal was a wolf. It was also confirmed by two of the leading canid specialists -- Dr Yadvendradev V Jhala, head of the Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology at Wildlife Institute of India, and Dr Jan F Kamler, lead canid biologist at Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), University of Oxford.

The discovery and confirmation of the wolf for the first time in Bangladesh over a century is not only exciting but also an incredible opportunity for scientific research and conservation.

Grey wolf (Canis lupus) is considered as the most primitive and among the rarest species of canine alive today with the remaining population in Europe, Asia and North America showing a more restricted distribution. Indian grey wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) is a subspecies remaining in most of the Asian range from Israel to China and its population is decreasing.

It is considered that in Bangladesh, the grey wolf (locally called Nekrey bagh) had existed until the 1940s in the northwest and southwest. According to an old record in the 1940s, there was speculation of a wolf sighting in Noakhali, an area far away from its previous range which cannot be considered as solid, conclusive evidence.

According to IUCN Red List of Bangladesh, it has been recorded as one of the 11 mammalian species that have gone extinct regionally due to lack of documentation with certainty in almost over a century.


Experts assumed that what was left of this ancient animal had dwindled to extinction.

Luckily in 2017, a wolf came across a wildlife photographer in the Indian part of the Sundarbans which stirred the researcher community. It was the first documentation from the mangrove habitat and considered as a stray individual dispersed from the nearest population.

The recent pictures of a carcass from Barguna, a coastal mangrove district in the southern Bangladesh with the Sundarbans on the west, confirmed the survival of this species.

During the process of investigation, pictures of the animal just after death were taken and sent for expert opinions. After observing the close-up photographs of the external body parts, they confirmed it as a wolf. Further investigation and DNA analysis are going on using the body remains of the animal.

The Indian grey wolf has a decreasing population as a result of conflict with farmers on livestock predation. Besides, the public often mistakes a small grey wolf with the golden jackal (Canis aureus), another species within the same genus of canid family.

The difference is in fact only subtle, where the golden jackal is slenderer built, has a narrower, more pointed muzzle, a shorter bushy tail and a lighter tread than the grey wolf. It is comparatively smaller in size and the winter fur also differs from wolves by its more fulvous-reddish colour.

Indian wolf, on the other hand, is one of the smallest subspecies of wolves. Thus by catching a glimpse of it in the wild, it is often confused with jackal due to reddish or light brown colouration, shorter and less dense coat length and smaller body size than other subspecies.

Muntasir Akash, a lecturer in zoology at Dhaka University, and Dr Md Anwarul Islam, professor in zoology at the DU and CEO of WildTeam, investigated the news to confirm its identification and initiated further analysis of the specimen with the support of Barguna Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kabir Mahmood.

Talking to UNB, the Barguna DC said they are taking steps to preserve the skeleton of the killed extinct wolf. “We’re taking opinions from the teachers of Dhaka University’s Zoology department, including Prof Anwarul Islam, about how to preserve the skeleton of the wolf.”

He said a team from the DU’s Zoology department has already collected the DNA samples of the wolf.
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