Posts Tagged ‘German Hunting and Fishing Museum’

This depiction of a pack of bärenbeissers grappling with some European brown bears is displayed in The German Hunting and Fishing Museum.

I had seen other places where these dogs were listed as feists or curs, but they obviously too large to be feists and too bulldoggish to be curs.

Brown bears used to be relatively common in Bavaria, and they used these bulldog types to hunt them. They are currently extinct in Germany, but one did show up in 2006 and was dispatched for killing livestock.

Note that the coat is a bit longer on these dogs than on the modern boxer. The dos had live and work in the often frigid conditions of the Alps, which means that a very short coat would not have been asset.

The modern boxer is derived from crossing the bullenbeisser/bärenbeisser type with the English bulldog, which is why the bulldog influence in the conformation could readily be seen in the early boxers.

These dogs remind me of a dog of partial boxer heritage I knew quite well. I now see her bärenbeisser heritage in her long tail, thicker coat, and powerful body. Though retriever blood also coursed through her veins, she was very much a boxer dog. Playful, protective, often plucky and possessed of a self-confidence that one rarely sees in a dog. She seemed to know that she was the fellest beast around these parts and all other creatures, both wild and domestic, seemed to know it.

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I wish the photo I took at the German Hunting and Fishing Museum in Munich had come out a little better, but this is a taxidermied boxer dog from the early days of the breed.

The boxer originates in Munich from crossing the indigenous Barenbeisser and Bullenbeisser types with the English bulldog. At the German Hunting and Fishing  Museum, there are paintings of Barenbeiszers being used to hunt European brown bears.

I was impressed with how much this boxer resembled a bulldog with cropped ears and a docked tail. The closest approximating I can make is that it looked something like a black pit bull terrier. It was significantly shorter in stature than a modern boxer.

The fact that it was black shows that boxers originally came in a wider range of colors than the modern breed, which comes in only brindle and fawn with a black mask and the white coloration that masks fawn and brindle.

I don’t know the exact identity of this dog, but my google search revealed this dog featured with one of the breed founders, Friedrich Robert:

Boxers have changed quite a bit. They really had a stronger bulldog influence than they do now. Modern boxers are more svelte dogs, designed to work as police and guard dogs.

The black coloration supposedly originated with a cross with a schnauzer, but it has since been removed from the breed.

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At the German Hunting and Fishing Museum in Munich, most of the animals on display are modern animals that can be found in Germany.

However, the remains of two Pleistocene species are also on display.

When I saw the first of these two creatures, my heart started beating really hard. I had seen photos of its massive frame and huge palmated antlers. To see the skeletal remains of one up close was a truly remarkable experience.

Of course, I am talking about the so-called giant Irish elk, giant deer, or shelk/Schelch (Megaloceros giganteus). This big deer was probably more closely related to fallow deer and not the two modern species that we call elk.

The stags’ antlers were likely for display purposes only. Because they were so large and positioned out to the sides, they really couldn’t have fought with them without damaging them. The hinds likely preferred to mate with only those stags with the most impressive antlers, and thus, the trait was maintained within the species, even though those antlers were quite unwieldy–especially when forests returned to Northern Europe at the end of the last Ice Age and the animals were forced to traverse dense forest.

The other Pleistocene species on display at the museum is a cave bear (Ursus spelaeus).

This animal was a close relative of the brown/grizzly bear species and the polar bear. It also lived during the Pleistocene.

Viirtually all of its remains have been found inlimestone caves, which is why the species go its name and may be the reason for its extinction.

One theory goes that these bears never utilized anything but limestone caves for their hibernation dens.  As human populations increased, these caves became occupied, and many bears froze or starved to death during the winters. Because sows give birth to their cubs during hibernation, many cave bears likely perished as tiny cubs that were born out in the elements. Brown bears used a wider array of hibernation sites, and when humans took over caves, they simply went elsewhere. This allowed the brown bear to thrive even with expanding human populations.

One must remember that bears learn from their mothers how to forage and where to hibernate. We can see something similar to this situation today with grizzly bears and polar bears. Grizzly bears are omnivores, and the sows teach their cubs how to forage for a lot of different foods. Polar bear sows teach their cubs how to hunt marine mammals over the frozen arctic sea. When a polar bear is force to live on the land, it cannot utilize the land resources as well as a grizzly bear can. The polar bears did not learn how to properly forage on land as cubs, and when they must do so,  they are at a loss.  It is likely that cave bear sows taught their cubs to hibernate in caves, but when the caves became occupied, they did not have any skills that allowed to find alternate hibernation sites.

Neanderthals may have worshiped cave bears.  Many skulls and bones of cave bears have been in caves that have been associated with Neanderthal remains. Some of these bones and skulls ahve been placed in ways that indicate an arrangement for ceremonial purposes.

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I took this photo of a common hamster or European hamster (Feldhamster in German) at the German Hunting and Fishing Museum in Munich (Deutsches Jagd- und Fischereimuseum).

Other names for this animal are the great hamster or the black-bellied hamster. I prefer to call it the common hamster.

It is from this species that we get the word hamster, which is derived from the German word hamstern, which means to horde.

The species was once relatively common in farm fields in Western Europe, but now it is quite rare. It was once trapped as a pest species and for its fur.

It is significantly larger than the typical domestic Syrian hamster, but this specimen wasn’t particularly large. It was maybe 20 percent larger than a female golden hamster.

I have plenty of photos from this museum, which I will be uploading in the near future.

Lots of interesting animals.

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