I lived through that great Shark Week debacle in 2014, when the usually fairly reputable Discovery Channel showed this bizarre pseudo-documentary called Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. I believe I watched all of five minutes of this monstrosity, and I knew that the thesis posited in the film, that there really still are Megalodon sharks swimming the seas, would be taken as fact by a certain percentage of the credulous public.
If such an animal really does still live in the ocean, then small to medium-size craft could be endanger at all times, but of course, no real evidence of late surviving Megalodon has ever been produced.
Indeed, when this documentary came out, I was quite aware that some shark specialists were doubtful that these large sharks survived into the Pleistocene.
Well, we now have some really good evidence, based upon an extensive re-evaluation of the fossil record of Megalodon sharks, that the species went extinct about 3.51 million years ago. It was previously believed that the species went extinct 2.6 million years ago, and recently, a supernova was suggested as the likely culprit.
However, this new date means that the supernova probably did kill off lots of large marine mammal, but the Megalodon had already been gone for about a million years before the supernova hit.
This new study, published in PeerJ, contends that the species became extinct as the modern great white shark spread over the world from its ancestral home in the Pacific Ocean. Great whites became widespread in the world’s oceans around 4 million years ago, and their spread roughly coincides with the new extinction date for the Megalodon.
The authors contend that the juveniles of the Megalodon were unable to compete with the adult great whites, and because a species cannot exist very long if its young never survive, the great white might very well be the culprit behind the extinction of the Megalodon.
So no, Megalodon doesn’t live. Jaws took it out long ago.
Happy Friday friends! I feel like I’m cheating a little by sharing this, because the recipe is one I originally shared here last year. But we made these cookies again yesterday for an early Valentine’s Day treat, and since this upcoming week is V-Day week, I felt inspired to share again. I’ve actually tweaked a couple of things in the recipe since last year as well, so an update felt needed. I hope you love them as much as we do!
SunButter (or Peanut Butter) and Jelly Heart Print Cookies Makes about 24 cookies
INGREDIENTS 1 cup SunButter (for allergy-free recipe!) or peanut butter 1-1/4 cups gluten-free or all-purpose or flour 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup brown sugar 1 stick butter (softened) 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extra 1/2 cup jelly, jam, or preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, use a mixer to beat together the SunButter or peanut butter, butter, and egg, then beat in the sugars and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat in the flour mixture on low until well mixed. Roll tablespoon size balls on dough and place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart, the slightly press each cookie into a round shape (we dip the bottom of a metal measuring cup in sugar and then press onto each cookie ball). Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately use the bottom of a wooden spoon handle to make heart shapes in the center of each cookie while still hot. Fill each indentation with jelly, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Note: If you have a dairy allergy, you can easily substitute butter for a butter alternative. And if you have an egg allergy, use an egg replacer mix or 1/2 a mashed banana in place of the egg.
I must admit that I never really new sighthounds other than retired racing greyhounds until these past few months. I knew that Jenna had a special relationship with Zoom, her cream and white whippet, and when we moved in together, she had just brought in a brindle and white whippet puppet.
I figured that the puppy would wind up being her dog, and although I was quite aware that whippets were quite trainable dogs, I never really thought I’d become attached to one.
As Poet has matured, though, he and I have drawn closer to each other. It was he who made the first mood. A few months ago, he just sort of declared in his subtle sighthound ways that he was my dog, end of discussion.
And I’ve accepted the arrangement. I have found him to be as biddable as any golden retriever, and I have trained him to sit, heel, lie down, stand, and speak. He fetches the ball like a demon, which is to be expected. His father is a Frisbee nut.
He likes to go with me everywhere, and because he’s smaller and innocuous, I generally don’t have a lot of trouble taking him places. He is genteel and kind, but he is not demonstrative with strangers.
Through one family line I trace to the rugged counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the same counties that spawned the modern whippet as a rag racer. I suspect my Quaker ancestors in that part of the world may have had little greyhounds much like whippets, perhaps to fill the pot with rabbit stew on cold winter nights.
So we are now attached to each other. I have a nice little whippet with a show and coursing career ahead of him, and I now know the full appeal of this breed. Once they choose their person, you are it. No one else really matters.
And that is strange and moving feeling, especially when you’re used to golden retrievers that are so socially open.
Poet is my little boy. My little whip. And I am his person.
One of the great exercises on the internet among those who wish to be taken seriously as “dog people” is to say that dogs are not wolves. In one sense, they are quite right. Dogs are not wild canids, and they are certainly not the mostly fearful and reactive wolves of the middle latitudes of Eurasia and North America.
But in another broader sense, they are dead wrong. I’ve been following this debate for some time. At one time, there was a great emphasis on the so-called Canis variabilis that were contemporaries with Homo erectus at the Zhoukoudian cave system in China. The remains date to 500,000 years ago, and it’s quite a leap to say that Homo erectus began dog domestication.
So this idea that these Chinese specimens are ancestral to the domestic dog is quite faulty. Even if we were to say that Canis mosbachensis were the ancestor of dogs, we would have a real problem on our hands. The Mosbach wolf disappears from the Eurasian fossil record no later than 300,000 years ago, when it was replaced by modern gray wolves. The earliest domestic dog that has been proposed dates to 33,000 years ago in the Altai Mountains.
Somehow, you have to get a species that went extinct hundreds of thousands of years before the formation of the earliest domestic dog to become its ancestor. The chronology makes no sense.
So when you see someone claiming that Canis variabilis is wild Canis familiaris, just understand that this person hasn’t looked at the most recent literature on these Middle Pleistocene wolves. But I’ve seen this repeated enough that I do think I need a place on this blog where I can easily link to the problems with this assertion
The real problem with all of this is that in dogs, at least in the English speaking world, there is a real problem with phylogeny denial. So many people are caught up in this “dogs are not wolves” idea that they invest lots of mental gymnastics in trying to create another wild ancestor for the domestic dog.
Again, the gray wolf species is at least 300,000 years old, and no one has found a relationship between dogs and wolves that posits their divergence as being greater than 33,000 years. There is an old mitochondrial DNA estimate that is largely not accepted that puts their split between dogs and wolves at something like 135,000 years ago, but that’s still after the gray wolf existed as a species.
So let’s talk about why saying dogs are not wolves is an exercise in phylogeny denial:
One of the implications of our modern Darwinian synthesis is monophyletic descent. All organisms derive from ancestors, and it is impossible to evolve outside one’s ancestry. If we were to go back in time to see when the most recent common ancestor of dogs and gray wolves, you would have a hard time describing that ancestor as anything other than a form of Canis lupus.
Dogs have evolved through their Canis lupus ancestor, just as modern wolves have evolved through theirs. It is accurate to say that domestic dogs are not derived from extant wolves, but it is not accurate to say that dogs did not derive from wolves. It is also not accurate to say that dogs are a different species from Canis lupus, because dogs are still part of a Canis lupus lineage.
So dogs and wolves are continuing to exchange genes. They are not becoming reproductively isolated from each other in a way that would lead to speciation, even now.
I’ve never understood why this line of thinking has ever been popular, except that wolves people have indeed abused dogs under the assumption that their social systems are much like those of captive wolves. Further, it is quackery of the worst order to assume that dogs should be fed only full raw carcasses of meat because that is what wolves eat.
But those problems are not adequately addressed by promoting another scientifically dubious prospect. Dogs do behave somewhat differently from wolves, but that is because dogs are domesticated. Wolves behave differently because they are a wild form, and as a wild form, they have undergone a selection for extreme timidity and wariness as we have tried to wipe wolves off the face of the earth.
You may have noticed less posts than usual here this month, and that’s because my work-life balance has been majorly scrambled. January is always slower for work, which is honestly a blessing after the 60 hours a week I put in during the holiday season. But this month, my husband, who most of you know works for a band, has also been on tour for the last two weeks straight. In total, Robbie is gone about half the year, but he always come home once a week for two to three days, during which I work full time while he cares for our kids. When he is on the road, I have child care a couple of days a week to work, but the rest of the time it’s me being a (temporary) single parent, and I’m admittedly usually on the border of losing it by the time he arrives home. As much as I adore my kids, I’m more than ready to hand them off when he walks in the door. It can be a bit much for both of us at times, but over the years, we’ve created a routine that works well for both of our jobs and our roles as parents. But having him gone for two weeks (the longest in a row he’s been gone since before we had kids) and trying to work full time, get the kids to school and activities multiple times a day, get them fed and bathed and dressed, and taking care of stuff around the house, etc. without a break has been pretty freaking exhausting. I like to post here at least three times a week, but this month I just had to take a step back.
I will say that in the past, I probably would have stayed up until 2 AM to work, gotten four hours of sleep tops, and then pushed myself to run on fumes to get through each day. This year one of my goals has been to go easier on myself, and allowing myself some time to just breathe or meditate or watch freaking Netflix for a half hour before I go to bed (which has been by midnight every night) has definitely helped me operate on just more than survival mode during this time.
Essley and I stopped at a local forest preserve the day before Robbie left (back when it felt like early spring at the beginning of the month; it is 100% winter now), and I snapped these photos with my phone. When things have felt like too much over the last couple of weeks, I look at them as a reminder of how easy it is to take a moment to just allow myself to be free, like Essley. I mean, this girl is truly on the most free spirits humans I’ve ever met. It’s so easy to be inspired by that. It’s also kind of amazing how our little ones, no matter how much they push us to the edge, can be teachers to we adults, isn’t it?
Things will be back to normal here in February, both at home and here on Bubby and Bean. In the meantime, I’ll just going to do what I can, and keep looking at the photos as a reminder on the best way to be. I also want to give a major shout out to actual single working parents and those who have their partners gone for truly long periods (like those in the military). This shit is hard, man, and you are amazing and inspiring and strong.
Valentine’s Day may be a month away, but that didn’t stop my 5 year old from taping a Valentine’s banner to the fireplace literally the minute the Christmas decorations came down. This past weekend, she even asked if we could start making Valentines for her classmates. And while I gently assured her that we didn’t need to do it quite this early, it did prompt me to reopen the Bubby and Bean Art Shop shop after a short break following the holiday rush, with a bunch of Valentine’s Day cards., that I am now sharing with you all today. For those who didn’t know we had this little side business (I don’t talk about it much here, but I started it back in late 2010!), I create greeting eco-friendly greeting cards, every single one of which is printed, cut, scored, and folded individually by hand. If you’re thinking of sending or giving hip, handcrafted, earth-friendly Valentine cards this year, I’d love for you to check them out. Oh yeah, and you can take 25% of your order today through this Friday (1/18/19) with code LOVE19. Hurray!