Razboinichya Rover

ResearchBlogging.orgIn 1975, a well preserved “dog-like” skull was found in the Razboinichya Cave (in the Altai Mountains in Siberia).  Because this skull was so well preserved, it provided opportunities for study between this animal, dogs, and wolves.

A wolf skull, dissimilar to the skull found in Siberia.

This cave was a home to many other archeological finds. There were bones from numerous other mammals, from reptiles, amphibians, and fish.  About 71, 290 mammalian bones and fragments were uncovered and removed from this site. The “dog like” skull was found among the bones of foxes, cave hyenas, and gray wolves.

But what exactly was this skull?

After extensive analysis, the pooch in the cave was found to be most similar to fully domesticated dogs from Greenland that existed 1000 years ago.  The Razboinichya Rover was unlike wolves, both modern and ancient.

They look at the skull shape, the arrangement of the teeth, and so forth.  The short and relatively broad snout and the tight teeth, both indicate that this animal is more dog than wolf.  The only slight anonamly is that the teeth of the Razboinichya canid is inconsistent with the Greenland domesticated dog.  In all other measurements, this canid is a dead-ringer. Continue reading


The Week in Tweets – 29th December 2012

Each week, I blog the links we shared on my twitter account. I also a select a favourite to crown the ‘Tweet of the Week’. It’s a big hunk of links, so get a coffee and enjoy some reading.


Tweet of the Week

When I attended a seminar series with Paul McGreevy, he mentioned how studies of guide dogs have shown that the most successful puppies have characteristics that you wouldn’t typically associated with success.  That is, the ‘perfect guide dog puppy’ is right pawed (‘handed’), left eyed, and has hair that whirls in an anti-clockwise direction.  This is seriously the case, as crazy as it sounds, and ABC Catalyst looks into this in more detail in the story “Left Paw Right Paw“.

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Puppies – The Fourth Week

Boomer sleeping.

The puppies continue to grow and be healthy and happy. At 3.5 weeks they began to be offered solid food (mince beef) to start the process of weaning. They now only get access to Clover after they’ve been offered ‘real food’. (The idea is that they will fill up on mince before having a drink.)  Clover is no longer getting several big meals a day, as we want to encourage her to cut back on the milk production. Continue reading


Television is Good for Puppies

ResearchBlogging.orgNot only do puppies respond to television, but watching the tube may have a positive role in their development.

3.5 week old border terrier puppy watching TV.

Researchers conducted controlled studies which exposed puppies to video images between 3 and 5 weeks of age. This was based on the principle we commonly call ‘socialisation‘ – that exposure to stimuli in puppyhood (particularly from about 3 weeks until  12-14 weeks) creates adult dogs that are less fearful and less anxious, and so impacts upon the temperament and coping style of the dog. The authors said, “puppies that are not exposed to particular kinds of environmental stimuli during this period have an increased likelihood of developing a fearful response to those stimuli, which may present clinically either as inappropriate avoidance behaviour, fearful withdrawal, or fear-related aggression”.

Because puppies at 3-5 weeks show no sign of fear when approaching objects, but start to have fearful responses at 5 weeks, and most puppies will display fear often as 7 week olds, it was theorised that exposing puppies to stimuli at 3-5 weeks may help shape future behaviour in a positive way.

Particularly, these researchers considered that puppies raised in sterile kennel environments (i.e. Dunbar’s ‘lemon puppies’) could be bettered though audiovisual stimulation. In other words, television as a remedy to the sub-standard socialisation in kennels.

In this experiment, puppies were raised in a ‘commercial’ establishment in a barren pen, with two meals a day, housed with mum.

The experiment used 7.16 minutes of video were 50% ‘animate’ (people, dogs, etc) and 50% ‘inanimate’ (such as traffic, vacuum cleaner, etc).  The television was played as ‘normal’ – not loud and not with modification to the colour composition of the screen.

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The Week in Tweets – 16th December 2012

Welcome to our only weekly (ish) segment: The Week in Tweets! This is where I summarise my weekly tweets (from my Twitter account) and choose my favourite as the Tweet of the Week.


Tweet of the Week

My favourite post this week is a cute video I found where a film crew put pet dogs to the test, to see if they are any good at guarding the property. This is just a ‘silly test’, and a lot can be said about how one would really test these dogs’ guarding abilities. But it’s pretty fun to see how these dog’s reactions, and how their owners think their dog will be react is very interesting, too.  The story is, “Guard dogs more friendly than frightening when put to the test“.

Continue reading