Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Absolute Piffle’ Category

This question has been posited to me several times on Quora, and I’ve tried to answer it several times.  But I do think it’s best that I just post it here with simple video.

There was movie called Buffalo Rider in 1978 that had the main character as a sort folk hero who rode a bison around taking down evil doers all over the West. It is not the best -acted or best written movie (to say the least), and one thing you very quickly realize is how hard it would be to ride a bison.

I have a sense of humor, so I will post a Jomo and the Possum Posse video that makes fun of this film. You can see how hard it is to ride a tame bison!

So when I see this on Quora again. I’m just going to link to this.

And I should point out that when you go to tame wild bovines, you’re kind of putting your life in your own hands. Even domestic cattle are pretty dangerous animals, and I cannot imagine how brave one would have to have been to domesticate aurochs, which were larger and far more recalcitrant.

If you can live where you can just hunt them, you’re a lot better off.  You are not forced to live with them in intimate contact every single day.

So there was never good reason to tame bison in America until Europeans arrived, and there were plenty of good reasons to leave them as a natural resource that one could harvest in much the same way we harvest white-tailed deer.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

When you’re super-generalist, like a coyote:

99 problems coyote

This works best if you pronounce “niche” the American way.  I know. I don’t like the way it sounds either.

 

Read Full Post »

April 1st is Celebrated Here

miracinonyx

Yes. The previous post was Grade-A Bull-Plop,

It is true that the two extinct North American “cheetahs” (Miracinonyx) were close relatives of the modern cougar.  They have been posited as the reason why pronghorns are so fast, and I’ve thought a better name for them would be “coursing cougars.

And yes, Pleistocene North American cougars went extinct, and the current cougar population is derived from a recolonization event from the South American population that happened around 8,000 BC, which is 10,000 years ago.

But no one has been able to get a full-genome sequence out of either extinct species of North American cheetah. In theory, cougars and these false cheetahs would have been able to hybridize, so it is within the possibility that they might have contributed some genetic material to modern cougars.

Yes. April Fools’.  Throw your rotten fruit at me now. I deserve it.

 

Read Full Post »

It all makes sense, except for those barking retrievers and that fawn whippet that was Robert Hardy’s own beloved dog.

Read Full Post »

Shaggy

I had an old dog. His name was shaggy.

Long matted hair and tail so waggy

His mom was a collie. His daddy a rambler,

Half Airedale and a half springer spaniel.

He killed the rats and groundhogs

Screwed the bitches and fought the dogs.

He looked so cute and brown and black

But he’d run a deer down if it had a big rack.

He didn’t listen. He didn’t mind.

He was only interested in being his kind.

Shaggy wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t well-heeled.

He just wanted to run all free-wheeled.

A farm dog born of manor and mirth,

His kind once ran hard on the earth.

But just as passed on a winter’s day,

I knew I’d never again have a dog that way.

We now must keep them locked up well

And not let them roam heaven and hell.

But still I miss that wild freeborn wag

That came from old mongrel Shag.

***

Forgive me my doggerel. I composed all this nonsense as I was going to bed one night.

I never had a dog named Shaggy, but I knew many dogs like him.

Read Full Post »

River Wolves

Quest and Anka swimming in the Ohio River on Sunday.

anka and quest in the ohio river

river monster anka

anka river dog

river dog anka

water wolves 1

water wolves

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

bat-eared fox

I have not yet been asked to review the new film Alpha, which is a story about early dog domestication. I have not seen the film yet, but I do want to see it.

I do think we need to get beyond the Coppinger model for dog domestication, and I think there have been some serious attempts recently, but I’m not going to play around with that right now.

Instead, I’m going play around with some speculative domestication reverie. Forgive me my flights of fancy. I must play around a bit.

Let’s say that domestication didn’t involve wolves at all. Let’s say it happened with a very different canid.

And you really can’t get more different from wolves than bat-eared foxes are. Bat-eared foxes are odd little creatures. They are intensely social foxes that live almost entirely upon harvester termites. They do eat other things, and they have even been known to scavenge carrion. But most of what they eat is harvester termites.

Let’s say that somewhere in East Africa some 50,000 years ago, a wandering band of nomad came into the land, but found the whole countryside devoid of game.  The only quadruped messing about the scene were several bands of bat-eared foxes.

And the hunters speared the foxes and ran them down and roasted their bodies on campfires and ate away at their manky fox flesh and hoped the spirits would bring forth a kudu or an impala from the bush.

So for many weeks, the people hunted the bat-eared foxes, and they choked down the fox meat.

But then the fox numbers dwindled, and the disgusting pains of hunger swept through the people. And the babies starved to death, and the children grew gaunt in the piercing sun.

And so the hunters set out on a big journey into the rising sun hoping that they would some place so wondrous as to have plentiful hoofed game.

One hunter, though, knew of a little trick that he’d learned from the hot days of fox chasing in the sun. He knew that the bat-eared foxes like to hang near the termite nests, and he knew that if he staked out one big termite nest, he’d eventually run into a fox.

For two hot days he sat in silence. But on the nightfall of that second day, he the hoary gray form of a bat-eared fox. It was a vixen, and she was all heavy with milk.

Her form was gaunt and tight, and he teats were all swollen with the milk. And the hunter felt pity for her, and so he could not cast his spear upon her.

He sat there watching as she picked up the termites and marveled her rapid mastication.  Rare is the hunter who can avoid watching his quarry and empathizing with it. It is man’s ability to empathize with an animal that ultimately makes him great hunter. It is his ability enter into the animal’s mind and see its ways and its habits as the animal sees it.

But he still can kill it and kill it with skill.  It’s just that every once in a while, the empathy subsumes the hunter, and he feels that odd profound kinship with the animal. It is a feeling I have felt so profoundly on my own hunts, and it is one that I know has made me pass up more than a few shots.  And these are the feelings I do not wish to lose. If I do, I will be a monster, not a fully human hunter.

So the hunter sat and watched the vixen eating the termites, and he let her pass. He then followed her tracks through the arid country. He kept his distance back on the trail, hoping that he would not spook her.

He followed her out of nothing more than curiosity, and as he followed her, he noticed the cloven hoofs of a kudu. The fox and the kudu were following the same trail,  so the hunter knew that if he tired of his little fox tracking, he might be able to get on a kudu trail and bring home some nice meat for the band.

As he followed the trail, the kudu sign grew fresher and fresher. And out of the bush, a young kudu materialized out of the heat waves.  Both hunter and kudu were suprised to encounter each other, but the hunter knew to throw his spear.  It hit home, and the kudu ran and ran. The hunter followed its blood trail, and then found the beast lying in its death throes.

He dispatched the kudu with a simple blow to the head, and it became meat in very short order.

The hunter covered his kill and began the journey back to where he had left his companions. He had dropped a kudu bull, and they would soon have food to eat.

But he had to make his way carefully home, for the stench of blood could bring in lions and hyenas. So he started homeward,  when he sensed presence of another being staring at him.

When he turned to look for his stalker, he was shocked to find the vixen standing upon a little boulder. She was transfixed by him, and he was amazed by her.

He turned to walk away, and the bat-eared fox squall-barked.  He turned to look in her direction. He waved a blessing at her, and then turned to walk again. The vixen squall-barked again, this time with frantic intent.

The hunter turned to look at the fox, but then another movement caught his eye, He turned his head to make his eyes register upon the form before him, and then he realized that a young male lion had come to stalk him. It had been trailing the wounded kudu, and now, it had come upon a bit of human flesh. All it had to do was lie in wait, and there would be a kill.

The hunter stood tall on his legs and reached for his spear. He had but one opportunity to make the lion fall as it began to charge, and he knew that he had to make it count. Otherwise, he would be lion’s meat.

He made his spear aim dead on the lion, and as the beast began its horrific charge, the hunter steeled his nerves  and began his spear cast. It home just as the lion’s charge reached within ten feet of him.  The arrow hit the lion lungs, and her ran off in terror to die the death of a mortally wounded beast.

But the hunter lived. And he owed his survival to the little squall-barks of the bat-eared vixen.

He just began to make his way home when he herd the sound of many hoof-beats. All around him were vast herd of zebra and wildebeest.  And there were many kudu and impala flitting about.

In his journey following the bat-eared fox, he had accidentally stumbled onto some game rich country, and he had to bring his people here.

And he had to make them thank the fox.

And so these people survived a long bout of famine all thanks to their guardian spirit, a little bat-eared fox.

And so the legend was passed through all the people’s children and their children and their children’s children.  And the people came to revere the fox, and bring the kits into their villages and make them their guardians and good luck talismans.

And soon there were whole populations of bat-eared fox that lived in villages and ate people food along with their normal insectivory.

And they followed the people out of Africa into Eurasia, where they diversified into so many forms.

And the bat-eared fox is found on every island and on every continent where people exist.

Some herd our chickens and ducks. Others keep malaria mosquitoes at bay, while others rat as proper terriers do in our present reality.

But in this reality, man’s best friend is the bat-eared fox, not the domesticated wolf. And wolves themselves never survived into the present era. It was too clunky and too churlish to fit into the world dominated by man, and it was fully extirpated from all the land.

And so I’ve laid out some silly reverie of speculative domestication. Forgive me my folly. I sometimes can’t help it.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: