anonymous asked:

What's the reasoning that defines two groups of animals as subspecies rather than breeds? Like... a Bengal tiger and a Sumatran tiger would seem to be a great deal more similar than an Irish wolfhound and a pug, but the tigers are considered subspecies and the dogs aren't.

That’s tricky. Subspecies usually have a geographic component. The definition usually used for subspecies is that it’s

‘Two geographically distinct populations of the same species that have recognizable phenotypical differences’ 

So basically if you have a species, it either has no subspecies at all, or at least two. You can’t have just one subspecies. There’s also the thing that in animals (as in your example), subspecies is the lowest taxonomical rank below species that you can name. So you could specify that something is a dog, because dogs are a subspecies of wolfs, so you go from canis lupus -> canis lupus familiaris, but you can’t taxonomically go below that in latin naming.

It should be noted that the definition of species in general is…. kinda sorta tricky because while oftentimes, the ability to reproduce offspring is used, this leaves out the considerable amount of things that reproduce asexually and the gene flow that can happen between for example bacteria of different species. 

Now for ‘breed’ the thing is. there is no scientifically accepted definition of the term, it’s just a term used by breeders. The problem with applying the subspecies label is that pets or plant breeds usually don’t have geographical ranges as such, though there are so called landraces which are making this messy again, because they *do* have geographical ranges, sometimes really really limited ones, like the icelandic goat and they can be really really distinct from other animals but again, the icelandic goat is a variant of the subspecies Capra aegagarus hircus, aka the domestic goat. 

So essentially, a breed is like… one step below the taxonomical rank of subspecies. You could define them as ‘form’ i think,’ which is a step below subspecies, and in animal taxonomy is used to describe a deviation from the type of the species, so you might get away with that, but I wouldn’t bet it on it because that would require the scientific community to agree to actually recognize the specific breeds of dogs as forms for the like… ‘dog baseline’ which would be tricky? 

Wolf Park Ethogram: Pawing

What? To extend or wave the paw, using it to touch another or stroke the air in front of another.

Why? Pawing can be seen in many different contexts. These include but are not limited to greetings, courtship, eating and general deference/submission. However, it has also been seen to be used in an exaggerated, obnoxious fashion.

Both Kanti and Bicho raising their paw at each other.

It also seems to be a form of play or a way to pester another wolf into play. 

Timber putting her paw on Wotan. He was very patient with her.

One of our past wolves Dharma is a great example of this. She would often get Wotan in trouble from his brother Wolfgang, who was also her mate. It almost seemed like she enjoyed pestering Wotan, while Wotan did not appreciate it at all:

Dharma puts her foot on Wotan. Ordinarily “giving paw” is a submissive or friendly gesture, but it can also be used obnoxiously. Imagine shaking someone’s hand REALLY HARD, or giving them a lot of hearty back slaps. (explanation courtesy of Monty Sloan)

More pawing and application of feet. Wotan displays an agonistic pucker but doesn’t move. Movement often encouraged her more.