I don’t know who made these for this dog, but I love them! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
I make no bones about my view that the horses that roam the American West are feral and should not be regarded as native wildlife. This view shouldn’t controversial, but it is.
Lots of romanticism exist about horses and the West, including that brief time when Native cultures used horses as their greatest asset in hunting bison.
But the truth is that the horses one might see roaming the ranges of the American West are all derived from domestic horses that went wild on the range. The initial ones were all derived from Iberian/North African horses that Spanish colonizers brought into the New World, but these were later augmented with horses brought over from the rest of Europe.
If one were to say that the various forms of freely breeding swine in North America were feral, it would be easy to get agreement. Suids are not native to the Americas, though a sister lineage, the Tayassuidae, are native to North America. The tayassuids, better known as peccaries or javelinas, once ranged as far north as the Yukon, but since the Pleistocene, they have not ranged north of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Feral swine, though, exist over large sections of the country, and wildlife and agricultural departments spend lots of time, money, and manpower on controlling their numbers.
Feral horses, though, get special privileges, as do feral donkeys. They receive a certain amount of protection not afforded to other feral livestock in the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The horses and donkeys are not controlled in the same way feral pigs are. There is no continuous open season on them in the way that most states manage feral pigs. Indeed, it is actually a crime to kill or harass feral horses or burros on federal land. Excess horses and burros are managed through roundups, where some of them are deemed adoptable and sold to the general public.
For those of us with a modern ecological mindset, which has a deep disdain for making allowances for feral livestock, this law makes little sense.
But there is a sort of argument for this act. It goes something like this:
The modern horse species evolved in its current form in North America. Some taxonomists contend that there was once a Holarctic distribution of this species during the Pleistocene, and with the latest ancient DNA studies, I tend to agree with this assertion.
The North American population of horses became extirpated at the end of the Pleistocene, and when European horses went feral on the Western ranges, this constitutes a rewilding event.
Now, I don’t buy this argument very much, but I can say that there are some things we might consider. North America’s original population of cougars became extinct at the same time. The cougars that live in North America are derived from South American cougars that recolonized the continent about 2,000 years later.
Further, conservationists and sporting groups spend lots of resources on restoring and protecting elk populations. Elk have a much shorter history on this continent than horses ever did. Different experts have estimated when elk have first arrived. 40,000 years ago has been suggested, but more recent data points to them colonizing North America only 15, 200 years ago.
If elk arrived in North America only that recently, their status as native wildlife exists only as a weird accident of geography. Elk are the on Cervinae or “plesiometacarpal deer” in the Americas. All the other deer in the Americas are Capreolinae or “telemetacarpal deer.” Sika, axis, red deer, and fallow deer are also Cervinae, but they were introduced after colonization.
Elk don’t live in far northeast of Russia anymore. The elk of North America are the genetic legacy of this ghost population.
So the feral horse advocates could at least through the recent arrival of elk in North America as something to consider when we say their favorite animal is not native. Horses have a long evolutionary history in North America, and we just happen to be at an odd point of the history of horses that no native horses exist here. The earliest horse, Eohippus, first appeared in North America 52 million years ago.
So the feral horse advocates could say that we have a species that derived from a lineage that was here for over 50 million years that has now been restored through feral livestock and thus deserves these protections. And this animal has at least as much rights to be free and roaming in North America as a large deer that had no connection to this continent until the latest Pleistocene.
However, the extinction of the horse in North America likely stemmed from natural climate change at the end of the Pleistocene. Horses became extinct because they were poorly adapted to the new ecosystems, and as we have seen, horses really don’t do that well out in the deserts and semi-arid ranges of the West. They require water tanks to get them through long droughts, and they eat lots of forage. Not as much as domestic cattle, of course, but on ranges that are heavily catered toward livestock grazing, the horses are just an extra set of grazers that are taking away forage from native wildlife.
And even if we were to accept that horses were restored native wildlife, why on earth would we ever extend these protections to donkeys? Donkeys, though of ancient North American origin, evolved in their current form in Africa.
So although I do think of horses as no longer being native to North America, I do think questions of them being native or introduced are complicated, much more so than the question of feral pigs or cats. And yes, there is something like an argument that can be made for the native status of horses, even though I think it’s mostly in error.
Possibly the greatest debate in all vertebrate taxonomy is classifying the turtle. If you were to ask an expert about where turtles belong, well, it will depend upon the expert and which papers this expert has recently read.
That’s because the literature on turtles is definitely divided. Morphological comparison studies, some of which have used rather complex statistical analysis of characters, have generally placed them closer to Lepidosaurs. The most common Lepidosaurs are squamates, which are better known as snakes and lizards, and there is another Lepidosaur order with exactly one species left in it. Rhynchocephalia is this order, and it includes exactly one extant species, the tuatara of New Zealand.
Molecular studies have generally placed the turtles either into or close to Archosaurs. Extant Archosaurs are the crocodilians and birds. All dinosaurs and pterosaurs were also Archosaurs, and birds, which are the only living dinosaurs, are certainly Archosaurs.
One would think that molecular studies would solve this problem, but it really doesn’t. The problem is that turtles evolve quite slowly, and trying to figure out divergence times based upon mutation rates could result in inaccurate conclusions.
So no one really has a way to resolve this conflict.
And if you were to ask me, I would say, well, I don’t know. We have some ideas, but they are in conflict. And we have no way to resolve them at this time.
But that’s science for ya.
Happy weekend! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
Today’s the day to celebrate growing up with pets. Share your photos! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
Hang in there, it’s Friday! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
This post is in partnership with the Chicago History Museum.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have joined me last Friday as my mom, daughter, and I visited the most incredible exhibition at the Chicago History Museum entitled Silver Screen to Mainstream. When I first heard about it, I was intrigued by its tagline – “the original influencers” – and when I saw it in person and learned more about the history of the clothing on display, the tagline really made sense. Today I thought I’d share with you some pieces of the wonderful afternoon we spent at the exhibition. And I hope those of you in the Chicago area (and beyond!) will take the time to go check it out. It’s captivating.
Jessica Roussin, Digital Marketing Coordinator for Chicago History Museum (that’s her above!), gave us a little tour when we first arrived, and explained more behind the pieces in the exhibit. Over thirty garments from the 1930′s and 40′s are on display, by designers such as Chanel, Vionnet, Valentina, Paul du Pont, Howard Greer, and Adrian, and you guys, they are stunning. She also explained more about the history behind it, which was just fascinating to me.
If you’ve been reading here for a while, you likely know that I have a background in fashion (I majored in theatre in college and spent much of my senior year studying costume design, and later ran an eco-friendly womenswear label for close to 15 years), and the history of fashion in America during the 20th century has always had a place in my heart. I didn’t know a great deal about this particular era though, and walking through the exhibit was such a rich lesson in how, as America headed out of the Great Depression, celebrity culture emerged and began to affect mainstream style. Long before blogs and social media existed, Hollywood movie stars were true influencers, and for the first time in history, designers began creating garments for the everyday woman based on what these stars wore in their films and beyond.
While Silver Screen to Mainstream showcases fashions from Paris, New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, it was (understandably) the section featuring dresses that were all worn by Chicago women that most resonated with me. An evening dress made of silk and ostrich feathers, which was a copy of a design made by Jenkins Gowns for a performance by opera singer Helen Jepson, was custom made for the woman who ultimately donated it to the museum (Mrs. Otto Madlener) by Stanley Korshak Chicago, a high end women’s apparel store here in Chicago. The dress is absolutely jaw dropping in person. My daughter couldn’t take her eyes off it. It was so cool to be able to explain to her how old it was (she’s 5, so anything more than 10 years old is ancient in her eyes), the story behind it, and how it was created during a time when our country was truly reinventing itself after a decade of difficult times. (The exhibit also had a “cinema” that explained more about fashion of this era; my daughter watched the video five times.)
In addition to the plethora of glamorous dresses on display, the exhibition also has a section of casual dresses handmade by women who weren’t designers or famous on any level from patterns ordered from catalogs. One of the dresses is even on display inside out, to showcase the detail that was put into sewing it. Even these house dresses are simply gorgeous, and it was so cool to learn more about the time when sewing patterns first became commonplace.
It was also a treat to get to see the shoes, evening bags, and jewelry worn at the time, and the ways in which Hollywood had influence over accessories as well as clothing. I was specifically drawn to the dress clips on display, which were very on trend at the time. They were convertible, and could be worn on necklines, on shoes, or as brooches. My daughter was intrigued by the pocketbooks, which were quite fancy, and made from materials like suede, metal, and even plastic.
I took so much from this exhibition (as did my mom and daughter!), but I was especially intrigued by how, despite serious hardships and adversity as a result of the Great Depression, people in the 1930′s and 40′s used fashion to retain a sense of normalcy – or to at least appear to be together, even if the rest of their lives were not. Going to the movies was an escape from reality that provided a sense of optimism, and women were inspired by the fashion of the stars, so they took a little of the movies with them and made that fashion their own. Some were able to purchase designer replicas of what the actresses wore, and others (most, I’m guessing) purchased inexpensive patterns and created Hollywood inspired garments from them. Whatever the means, in a time of uncertainty, the fashion of the cinema was moving far beyond the silver screen and providing the mainstream with an exciting, new American style.
If you live in the Chicago area, or are planning a trip to Chicago, I highly recommend stopping by the Chicago History Museum and checking out Silver Screen to Mainstream (which runs through January 21, 2020) in person. It tells a fascinating story, and the hard work by Collection Manager Jessica Pushor and Guest Curator Virginia Heaven is evident. Then stay and explore the rest of the museum, which is full of fun for the entire family. Essley was obsessed with the lifestyle Chicago style hotdog. I was obsessed with the gorgeous event room (seen directly above).
For more information on Silver Screen to Mainstream, visit Chicago History Museum’s website.
What’s your favorite dog-friendly store? Now that Barli is done with his therapy dog training class, I’m working to get him out and into stores as much as possible to work on his skills…
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I have to admit that I love sago palms. I love the look of them and the tropical feel they give a yard. But we don’t have a sago palm — and we’ll never have a sago palm —…
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