Great documentary about Indian wolves

This is now playing on Netflix:

These wolves really do remind me of coyotes, right down to their consumption of fruit when it’s available.

 


Natural History

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What penis bones might tell us about dire wolf behavior

dire-wolf-baculum

Dire wolves are one of those creatures from the past that has captured the public imagination. They are conventionally dreamed of as being massive wolves, and Hollywood has created fictional ones the size of horses.

The truth of the matter is they were only slightly larger than the largest of modern North American wolves.

We know that they were closely related to modern wolves, but their exact position in the wolf family tree is still a bit contested.  The two species are close enough in appearance that it often takes a specialist to figure out whether one is looking at the skeletal remains dire or modern wolf the measurement of the skull features and limb proportions.

One feature, though, that is diagnostic of the dire wolf is its  robust and “perky” baculum.

If you don’t know what a baculum is, that’s because you’re human. In virtually ever other species, the males have a “penis bone” or os penis.  Where I grew up in West Virginia, it was not unusual for men to wear a raccoon’s baculum as talisman of both one’s virility and redneck bona fides.

The dire wolf is one of those ancient animals for which we have a lot of skeletal remains to examine.  In the famous La Brea Tar Pits, where the remains of over a million Pleistocene creatures have been found, dire wolves are the most common species to have been recovered.

The tar pits were a death trap for all sort of large herbivorous mammals, and when they became stuck in the natural asphalt tar, they were easy pickings for scavengers.  Dire wolves came to the tar pits to eat, but many, many of them died. Over 200,000 of them have been taken out of the site.

With such a big sample of dire wolf skeletal remains, paleontologists have been able to figure out quite a bit about their growth patterns, but of particular interest are the bacula of the male dire wolves.  They are shaped not the bacula of any extant canid. They are curved and robust, and when compared to modern wolves of the roughly the same size, they are 44 percent longer.

That is a unusual find, and it suggests something about dire wolf behavior that isn’t true of modern wolves.

Modern wolves generally reproduce through a mated pair. In most wolf packs living in most situations in the wild, only a single pair in a pack gets to mate and produce pups. Other wolves in the pack might mate, but their pups will either be killed or abandoned.

This doesn’t happen every time. If there is abundant prey, these young females are sometimes allowed to raise their pups alongside their mother’s litter.

But in most cases, they don’t get to raise pups.

Modern wolves spend a lot of energy making sure that the mated pair, who are usually parents of the other wolves in the pack, get to mate and get to mate with each other.  The other females in the pack might become pregnant, but they will be attacked if they try to mate with the main breeding male.  The only way they ever get pregnant is by wandering interlopers who haven’t yet formed a pair bond with a female.

During the mating season is when young wolves typically leave their parents’ pack.  They typically don’t have any mating opportunities, and the constant bickering wears on them.

The big and strangely shaped bacula of dire wolves suggests they might not have been quite like modern wolves.  These bacula are suggestive that dire wolves were “better endowed” than modern wolves, and larger genitalia is usually associated with a less physically competitive reproductive strategy.

This phenomenon is well-known in primates. Generally, if a monkey or ape has bigger testes or penis, there is going to be less physical confrontation when it comes to mating.

The competition for well-endowed monkeys is how much semen a male can produce and how far up in the female he can penetrate it. If you can produce more semen and get it deeper into the female’s reproductive tract, then you’re more likely to pass on your genes.

In less-endowed species, there is much more physical confrontation to get one’s genes passed on.

My guess is that this applied to dire wolves. They may not have even had a proper pair-bonding system, and a dire wolf bitch may have mated with many partners in much the same way female domestic dogs do.  The male dire wolves may have had very little competition for mating. They just mated and got along with each other.

It would have been an asset in a dire wolf pack for males to have gotten along with each other. More peace in a dire wolf pack means that more wolves remain in the pack for a longer period of time, and that means they would have had larger packs that would have been much more capable at hunting large prey. They also would have been better able to run off short-faced bears from their kills and to compete with Smilodons and American lions.

It’s likely that the intense competition between huge carnivorans during the dire wolf’s reign forced them into a more cooperative breeding and pack structure.

Again, no scientist has ever seen a dire wolf or observed their pack behavior, but they had this weird adaptation that sort of points to a more peaceful pack existence than exists in the modern species.

My guess is that dire wolves traveled in massive swarms, much like those seen in dholes of today. They were ruthless scavengers and dogged hunters.

When mating tame came, they bred like village dogs. Males would bunch up around a bitch in heat and each would mate with her. There would be no pair bond between the male and female.

The competition was in the semen and the implantation thereof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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Our Dominican Trip, In Photos

I wrote a post two years ago about our trip to the Dominican that was full of ethereal tropical stereotypes and musings about how rewarding it was taking Essley (then 11 months) along for the first time on this annual trip we do for a festival headlined by the band Robbie stage manages. This, my friends, is not that kind of post. I won’t repeat my “complaints” about why this year was such a different experience (you can read them here, in case you missed last week’s post where I mentioned it), because in reality it was still absolutely wonderful. I mean it would have to take either a lot of really bad crap to happen or a truly terrible attitude about life in general for a person not to enjoy themselves in blissfully sunny weather at a fancy all-inclusive resort. I had an incredible time. I’m a beach person by nature so I was in my element, I got to spend 6 days with some of my best friends and their babies, and my kids had the time of their lives. But it was also hard, especially when my husband was working, to wrangle a fiercely (and often frustratingly) independent almost 3 year old and an antsy 11 month old through a large resort full of dangerous distractions. (Again, I went more into that here if you’re in the mood for completely unnecessary bitching.) Most of our friends brought helpers and nannies, which was really smart for this particular trip (we were at a music festival, after all). And I learned a lot about how I’d do things differently. In the end, I’d say it was 85% awesomeness, 15% difficulties, and I’m profoundly grateful that we were able to go at all. I’ve been daydreaming about the sunshine ever since.

I did not bring my camera, because I wanted us to be present in our experience and not feel pressured to document it. But I did take a whole bunch of spontaneous, low quality and non-cohesive but in-the-moment pictures with my cell phone (which are shown here along with a handful taken by the professionals, like the two directly below by my old pal Dave Vann). I think they tell the story of our trip better than my words could, so I’m sharing them in all their glory today.

As you can see, the resort and grounds were stunning. And the company was pretty great too. I’m not sure where the festival will be next year, but if it’s in the Dominican, we’ll definitely be back. I’d really like to rent a place for a few days before or after so we can experience more of the country outside of the confines of resort life. It really is an incredibly beautiful country and the people that we’ve met were just wonderful.

Thank you for letting me share some pieces of our trip with you! Have any of you spent time in the DR?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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My Girl and Me, Partnering in Play

Family Play Ideas for Toddlers


Thank you LEGO® DUPLO® for sponsoring this post. Looking for creative play ideas for your little one? Find more play and learning inspiration at https://www.lego.com/family

I remember being pregnant with Essley and worrying (in addition to a million other things) that I wouldn’t be good at playing with her. I’m sure that sounds ridiculous (now that it’s been a few years, it admittedly feels a little ridiculous typing it out), but I’m just gonna go for it and be totally transparent here. I’ve always liked kids, but I wouldn’t necessarily have described myself as a “kid person” before I had them myself. I enjoyed doing adult things (and still do, obviously), and I wondered if once Essley was old enough to engage in play together if I’d be easily distracted, or get bored immediately, or just not be a natural at child play time. I assumed it would just be something at which I had to work, but it wouldn’t be something I instinctively loved, and that was okay.

Guess what guys? I was wrong. So wrong. I worried for no reason (which I’ve come to learn tends to most often be the case with worry in general), because not only do I absolutely treasure my playtime with Essley, I think I’m actually good at it. Really, I’m fairly confident that we’re all good at it. Spending creative playtime with your kids (or any kids you love) is not only an incredible way to bond, it’s also really fun. We were all kids once, after all, and I genuinely believe taking the time to partner in play with the little ones is therapeutic on so many levels. It’s just the best.

Essley and I are both way into creating art, working on crafts, and building things, and it’s those types of activities you’ll most find us doing together. She also loves make believe and role playing, and we often end up in elaborate pretend scenarios with her toys and dolls. One of our favorite things to do together that involves both of these is to play with her LEGO DUPLO sets. LEGO® DUPLO® building toys are perfect for children Essley’s age because they’re specially designed for the small hands of little ones aged 1½ – 5 years. They’re also twice the size of standard LEGO bricks, so they’re safe for preschool aged kids. And playing with them is genuinely fun for me (and my husband), because I enjoyed LEGO bricks so much as a kid myself, and it brings back some pretty fantastic memories. It’s also fun because there is little I love more than watching Essley’s imagination in action.

While she does have random LEGO DUPLO pieces hanging around that she likes to use, lately she’s been especially into her building sets (mainly her Big Construction Site set). She alternates between wanting to build it just like the picture on the box and making something completely different with the pieces. I have to say, there is something quite satisfying about putting the pieces together the way you’re “supposed” to (sort of like a puzzle) – but I also love when she decides to come up with her own unique creations. It makes me so happy to see her use her imagination and explore different possibilities, and she’s (usually; we are dealing with a 3 year old here) so sweet about delegating things for her dad and I to do with her pieces. It’s also so cool to see her creating goals for herself as she plays, and getting so excited at the end of building something, knowing she achieved success in doing so. Play, as we all know, is essential for early learning, as it’s the biggest way little ones learn about their world. And as parents, we’re our childrens’ very first partners in play! I feel like when we’re doing this together, I’m able to truly witness her learning and growing, which is indescribably wonderful.  I love her so much, and I cherish these times where we creatively play together.

Are there any other parents who thought (before kids) they might not be good at playing with their children, only to find out they were absolutely wrong? Who else loves to use LEGO DUPLO products when you’re partnering in play with your little ones?

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby & Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Promenade des Anglais, Nice
RIVIERA DOGS

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Saturday Survey: Christmas Trees

I posted yesterday about a Pug who felt it was more than unfair that a tree had been brought into his home. How does your dog feel about your Christmas preparations? Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Links I Love, Right Now (+ Wow, What a Week)

Links I Love // Bubby and Bean

This has been the weirdest week you guys. We got back from a 6 day trip to the Dominican late Monday night, and when we woke up Tuesday morning we were thrust back into reality in a way that honestly felt a little violent. I’ll share some photos from the vacation next week, but for now, I’ll just say that as incredible as it was to be in an absolutely gorgeous place with absolutely perfect weather and a huge group of our best friends and their kiddos, it was also exhausting. This vacation is an annual work trip for Robbie (a festival that has been held for the last 10 years in Jamaica, Mexico, and now the Dominican Republic). When I took Essley in 2014 when she was 11 months, it was my favorite of them all because I got to experience it through her eyes. Last year I was 9 months pregnant so I couldn’t make it, and I was majorly bummed. This year, I was so excited to get to go again, especially with both kids – but man was the experience with an “I’m in a testing you every chance I get” phase 3 year old and a 10 month old who hates sitting still a whole new world. During the periods where Robbie was working, trying to wrangle both of them myself around a huge resort full of potentially dangerous situations (swimming pools meant for kids who know how to swim, concerts with partying adults, etc.) and even just normal activities (food buffets, small kid pools, etc.) was challenging in ways I never anticipated. Most of my friends were smart and brought helpers or nannies, and I get it now. And yes, I feel like a complete jerk whining about being in a tropical place in December (poor baby!), but man. It was amazing and beautiful and the kids had so much fun and I’m so grateful, but it was hard. The flight back was especially interesting (the highlight was probably Emmett whipping two cups full of ice into the air and subsequently in the laps of those sitting in the two rows behind us; good times), and Tuesday morning we woke up before the sun even rose to Emmett coughing and sneezing his way through a high fever, Essley jet lagged and half asleep and ultra crabby for her first day back at school, and a pile of work that was infinitely more difficult for me to tackle than it should have been. And since then I’ve just sort of been walking through a haze, trying to get the kids back on schedule, catch up with work, get holiday cards sent, get birthday parties planned (both kids were born within two weeks of Christmas), and just make some sort of sense out of our current level of household disorganization. Boy have the times changed since the days when I planned trips 2 days before I left and came back feeling rested and renewed. HA. Hahahahaha.

(I also feel the need to say that despite my complaining over something that is about as far from a real problem as you can get, every time I look in the mirror and see the tan on my face and remember how lucky we are to get to do things like that, I mentally slap myself back into reality and express gratitude over and over. Tired or otherwise.)

And now that that rant is over, let’s get to the topic of the post. While this week has been nonstop in every way, I did have moments (like a 5 hour flight with wifi and several nights where I stayed up way too late just to have some kid-free time) where aimlessly browsing the internet allowed for me to come across some great links to share via a Links I Love post. So here they are:

Yes, it’s complicated and it’s not over, but it was pretty awesome to get to read that the Army Core of Engineers halted construction of the Dakota Pipeline.

Will someone please please please buy me this dress (as seen in top photo) to wear for New Year’s Eve? New Years Day is my birthday so it can be a birthday present too! Isn’t that a great idea? Huge, huge thanks in advance for such a thoughtful gift. Love you. (I would totally take this one too.)

I was recently introduce to Tessemae’s ridiculously delicious organic salad dressings and now I can’t stop. I’ve been drooling over all of their recipes this week. I want to eat every single one of them.

Check out this awesome gift wrapping hack that lets you wrap your holiday presents in 15 seconds each. Pretty neat.

I ordered this scarf on sale over Black Friday weekend. It was waiting for me when I got home from our trip and now I want it in ALL THE COLORS. Robbie has been side eyeing me like WTF babe because I’ve been wearing it around the house nonstop, even when I have my pajamas on. #BlanketScarvesForever

As you may be aware from my big post about Emmett and IS last week, this past week (from the 1st through yesterday) was Infantile Spasms Awareness Week. I read tons of articles and posts on the topic, but this one about a new study that shows that over half of kids with IS go misdiagnosed for an average of a month before they’re properly treated (which can cause profound long-term affects) really struck a chord with me. I am hugely passionate about parents and doctors making themselves aware of the symptoms, and hope that studies like this prompt the healthcare industry to take action at making IS awareness and education a priority.

Here are some things other countries describe as “American,” and they’re hilarious. Cool American Doritos, man.

While this post is now a couple of weeks old, I keep revisiting it. I’m so happy for my friend Elsie and her adoption plan via a special needs program in China. It brings genuine tears of joys to my eyes. I can’t wait to follow along.

Have you guys heard of Dr. Pops? I just got a box of their Honey & Eucalyptus and Zinc + Vitamin C pops for Essley for cold season and am stoked to try them. They’re basically suckers with supplements in them. Brilliant, right?

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love IKEA more (for those who missed it, we filmed an IKEA Home Tour episode with them over the summer and they are genuinely the best company ever), they decide to give their employees up to four months maternity leave. Other companies, TAKE NOTE.

I can’t stop looking at National Geographic’s 50+ best photographs of the year.

In my mind, Essley and I will be making a whole bunch of these super cute Christmas cookies over the next few weeks. (Translation: probably won’t happen, but a mom can dream.)

So, so shameless of me to post this link, but I really do love it: The 2016 Bubby & Bean Art holiday card line is currently shipping in 1-2 business days. Just saying.

There won’t be a post tomorrow because if I haven’t hinted at it enough so far in this one, it’s been a crazy freaking week and I need another catch up day. So have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday, hopefully much more bright eyed and with it than I’ve been this week.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Baby bat-eared foxes

Look at the ears!


Natural History

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It’s ‘GOODBYE” but also ‘HELLO” to my NEW BLOG!

Dear friends,

It’s time for me move on – or rather sideways!  This blog, along with Menton Daily Photo has been running for 10 years and it’s time to consolidate so that everything is in one place.

Thank you, thank you for your loyalty to Riviera Dogs and to me. Your loyalty, your comments and encouragement helped me so much in my photography journey.

The new blog will be published probably once or twice a week – but with more photos and more words. And of course there will be lots and lots of dogs – but also stories of life in France and Italy and sometimes a little about photography.

Of course, if you want to look back at postings on this blog, well, they are not going anywhere. You’ll be able to find all the posts and photographs from the last ten years at any time – I just won’t be posting here anymore.

So onwards…. if you are interested in dogs (and you’d not be here if you weren’t) but also life as it’s really lived in the south of France and Italy and my journey in photography, come with me …

Click on the link Jilly Bennett Photography and do subscribe for updates. Don’t forget to click on the confirmation button you receive after subscribing and then you’ll find me in your mailbox on a regular basis.

I will, of course, still be posting every day on Facebook and Instagram.
RIVIERA DOGS

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Friday Funny: Dog Has a Very Happy Butt!

Laughing out loud at this one! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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