A new study published in the journal Nature Communications has revealed that climate change has turned dogs into cats. Based on the analysis of 40 million-year-old canine fossils, scientists have reached the conclusion that Canidae exemplars evolved from ambush attackers to coyotes and foxes as a result of deforestations.
The fact that modern day dogs used to be much more ferocious in the past is not new to us. However, few researchers have actually set down to enumerate the physical changes that these species have suffered in awe of climate changes.
Lead study author Borja Figueirdo and his colleagues from the University of Malage from Spain have finally answered these questions by pointing out the body alterations of our beloved four-legged companions.
It appears that the major difference surfaced million years ago when temperatures in North America grew visibly drier and cooler causing many forests to disappear. Their place has been taken by vast lands; thus, making it more difficult for dogs to catch their preys.
As a result of the powerful deforestation, the elbow of the dog grew to a much more fixed form. The initial shape enabled Canidae species to swivel their paws and thus, attack their victims. The more modern exemplars have fixed paws that enable dogs to run on larger distances.
Canine teeth, too have suffered various modifications. They became stronger in the savannah where wolves would have to chomp down their prey instead of immobilizing it as they used to in the forest. The stride and the signature pounce, which appear to be specific for modern species of dogs, had little use before the deforestation period, as the study has revealed.
These changes did not appear until wolves and other canine species benefitted of sufficient space where they could run freely. Otherwise, these new body traits would have led them straight into a tree as dogs wouldn’t have managed to adapt their bodies to the fast speed.
Once these new traits have been developed, wolves changed from ambush to pursuit-predators. The same technique is used by many felines, such as, coyotes, which has led scientists into saying that dogs may be evolving into cats due to climate change.
Dogs, like herbivores, have changed their appearance to survive in the new climate conditions and they will most likely continue to do so to cope with the new environment. For that matter, the findings of the current research will be used to determine the future evolution of dogs in parallel to the manmade climate changes.
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