If you missed that day of obedience school, Darwin was an English naturalist who demonstrated that all species evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called "natural selection." His theories on evolution have become the basis of all modern day life sciences.
He was —and remains—a big deal. (Except perhaps, with the Governor of Alaska...)
So in honor of his birthday (geez, can you imagine how old he'd be in dog years???) let's look back at the evolution of our very own species — the family Canidae. Canids are the earliest known carnivores...hey, maybe there is something to Stan and Big Pupi's BARF diet! Dogs appear in fossils about 40 million years ago, well before cats. (Take that Mica!)
While our family tree has 35 branches — stop Tanner! It's NOT that kind of tree! — there are three main groups:
• South American zorros (foxes, not Fox Terriers, Archie, not matter how "foxy" you may find them to be!)
• Wolf-like canines, including coyote, jackals, wolves and DOGS
• Fox-like canines, including the red fox (not Redd Foxx, Dexter) and its relatives
Now let's take a look in the old family album, shall we?
The first group evolved in North America about 40 million years ago and was named Hesperocyon which means "western dog." He looked like a cross between a weasel and a fox. (We won't name names, but I think there are still a few of these around, despite becoming extinct 15 million years ago.)
The next group, the Borophagines, were larger hyena-like animals with huge jaw muscles and sturdy teeth. Obviously, with that dental record, Lacie is a direct descendant even though they've been extinct for 2.5 million years.
Which brings us to the Canines, which includes the extinct dire wolf and all living species of canines. Now here comes the really interesting part...this group existed ONLY in North America until about 7 million years ago, when some species crossed a land bridge into Asia. Eric, Molly, Taffy, Marvin and Jackson -- just think of what a long walk your relatives took to get to the UK!!!
Which brings us to today's highly evolved, super intelligent, modern dog...
Just think, we've evolved to the point where we no longer hunt for food or search for shelter - we've trained our humans to do that for us. We don't even have to look for a mate, they act as pimps on our behalf!
Ahhh, life is indeed good, Charlie Darwin! Now pass me a slice of that 200-year old cake!