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A new study suggests that
dogs may have left moms who were battling them for the best food, and turned to people instead — leading to their domestication. Researchers in India studied the interactions between feral dog mothers and their pups. They found that when low-quality biscuits were offered, the moms tended to share with their puppies and there was no conflict. But when meat was offered, the
dog moms would put themselves first, growling at their pups and even grabbing the meat from their mouths. Meanwhile, ancestral dogs could have accessed the food left behind by human settlers, and there’s evidence the earliest farmers intentionally fed them. Those things may have made following people more attractive than staying with a selfish mom. “We feel that the mothers just tend to grab the best resources when available,” said senior author Anindita Bhadra of the
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. The study was published in the journal
Royal Society Open Science. — Read it at
Scientists with the
University of California, Davis, have found that a chemical agent used to kill
ear mites in dogs and cats helps the endangered Catalina Island fox, too. The foxes have been suffering from ear tumors, and had one of the highest prevalences of tumors ever documented in a wildlife population. About half of the foxes examined between 2001 and 2008 had the ear tumors, and most of those were malignant. But they also found that 98 percent of the foxes were infected with
ear mites, and the researchers determined that treating the mites could help avoid tumors. That hypothesis “now appears to be significantly helping this population,” said UC Davis’ Dr. Winston Vickers, lead author of the prevalence study. A complementary study found the ear mite treatment reduced the prevalence of ear mite infection to just 10 percent after a 6-month trial. "It's rare to have a success story," said the ear mite study's lead author, Megan Moriarty. "It was interesting to see such striking results over a relatively short time period.” Both the prevalence study and the ear mite study were published in the journal
PLOS ONE. — Read it at
The baby boom among the world’s most endangered killer whale population has continued, with the confirmation of the population’s 7
th calf in 12 months. The latest newborn, L123, was first sighted in early November and was confirmed by the
Center for Whale Research in Washington. It’s the first known offspring of its 12-year-old mom, L103. This year’s success has been a big boost over the 2013-14 season, when no newborns survived. — Read it at
An 84-year-old woman in Italy has her three
cats to thank for helping her escape her burning home. Mariangela Banchero was asleep in her home in a small fishing village when a fire suddenly broke out. Her neighbor said her three
cats attempted to wake Banchero with meows, and when that didn’t work, they jumped on her bed. “The lady told us that she woke up and tried to go upstairs, but there was a lot of smoke, so she went out and called the nephew to ask for help,” said her neighbor. — Read it at
A sweet baby koala can now be seen at the
Symbio Wildlife Park in Australia — and luckily, the
zoo caught her early moments outside of her mom’s pouch on video for all of us to enjoy. “A late-season joey, the six-month-old decided that it was time to start seeing what all this fuss was about in the outside world, and let’s face it — being this cute, she has definitely done the world a favor by doing so,” the
zoo said. In the video, she hugs her mom in a tree while munching on bamboo. — Watch it at
The Little Things
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