Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday Charles Darwin!

Today is a very important day as it is the bicentennial birthday of Charles Darwin! Happy Birthday Charlie!

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!


Gus said...

hmmm...200 year old cake. Nah, I'm still busy trying to get toast from brekkies.


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage said...

I wonder if we khan have Darwinfishes fur dinner?

AND follow it with KHAKE of khourse!

Happy Birthday CD!


Tama-Chan, Bibi-Chan, Gen-Chan, Vidock, Violette, Ollie said...

You gotta love evolution, Petey!

We prefer fresh cake, actually...

Your Friends,
Tom and Tama-Chan

Abby said...

Hi, Petey...

The picture of human evolution is hilarious...But sooo true...

I'm not sure I want of slice of the Birthday Cake...

Abby xxxooo

Koobuss said...

Thanks for the history lesson, Petey. That was very informative. I'm glad that we have evolved to the point where I can stay in bed until noon, which I am doing now. Life is good.

Love and Koobuss Kisses,

Noah the Airedale said...

How intelligent have we become....its incredible. I bet those earlier dogs and dog like creatures would still be around if they had humans at their beck and call lol.

ps. thanks for the history lesson. There is a program on telly soon about Charles Darwin.

Asta said...

Happy Birfday Charlie Dawvin!

I think we should go get some mowe wecent cake though..and oh thank dog fow ouw is indeed good
I enjoyed the histowy..thanks my supew evolved Petey
smoochie kisses

Dughallmor Beagles said...

Hey Petey, thanks for the history lesson :D We love the last bit the best but we don't want none of that rotten cake thanks! We're getting pilchard cake....mmmmm!
Slobbers xx

Eric said...

We had a good tv series a few weeks ago about the evolution of dogs. Course some of them, as you said haven't done too much evolving, and some have evolved too much too.That was verrrry interesting Petey. Go to the top of the class.And you can have a gold star too.

Wiry wags Eric xx

the many Bs said...

that was an interesting history lesson, Petey. you are a genius! ... and we are living the good life!


Lorenza said...

Hi, Petey!
Thanks for sharing this very informative post!
Happy 200th Birthday to Mr. Darwin!
Kisses and hugs

erin said...

Great post, Petey! I liked the lesson on doggie evolution. We do live pretty good lives! Did you say something about some cake?