Dog Ancestors Evolved From Mongoose-Like Forest Dwellers
by Jennifer Viegas
The first canines emerged in North America, where climate change transformed them from mongoose-like forest dwellers into pursuit-and-pounce predators, new research finds.
The discovery adds to the growing body of evidence that climate change dramatically affects the evolution of both predators and their prey.
“It’s reinforcing the idea that predators may be as directly sensitive to climate and habitat as herbivores,” co-author Christine Janis, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, said in a press release. “Although this seems logical, it hadn’t been demonstrated before.”
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, also reinforces prior findings that the earliest ancestors of dogs were native to North America.
“Dogs, that is the family Canidae, originated in North America, and did not spread to other parts of the world until around 7 million years ago, when they turn up in Africa and Eurasia, and they got to South America around 2 million years ago,” Janis told Discovery News…
(read more: Discovery News)
illustration of Hesperocyon and Sunkahetanka by Mauricio Anton