Two weeks ago, on a soggy and drab morning Chris headed out to Enghagen in Upper Austria to help the animal welfare organisation 4 Paws to translocate 5 wolves to an animal sanctuary in Spain. This became necessary, as the Upper Austrian authorities had closed the wild animal park in Enghagen. After moving out brown bears and some primates in the past months these wolves were the last animals in the park. The wolf enclosure was a dismal and sorry sight, with the animals reduced to living in a small very muddy area devoid of any significant cover. It really was time to get them to a better place.
The first 3 wolves were pretty easy to dart and anesthetize, but as always in these situations, it just gets harder as the animals become more anxious. The last animal was darted in a deep, dark and tight mud cave and Chris was only just able to extract it by lying on his belly and gently pulling it out by the tip of one ear. The transport to Spain was uneventful and the animals were released into their new enclosure in Primadonus, Spain. While some so-called “rescues” are often difficult to get on board with this one felt just right…
4 Paws has posted the entire story here [in German] All photos courtesy of 4 Paws
New paper out: Ancient and modern DNA reveal dynamics of domestication and cross-continental dispersal of the dromedary
Dromedaries have been fundamental to the development of human societies in arid landscapes and for long-distance trade across hostile hot terrains for 3,000y. Today they continue to be an important livestock resource in marginal agro-ecological zones. However, the history of dromedary domestication and the influence of ancient trading networks on their genetic structure have remained elusive. We combined ancient DNA sequences of wild and early-domesticated dromedary samples from arid regions with nuclear micro satellite and mitochondrial genotype information from 1,083 extant animals collected across the species’ range. We observe little phytogeographic signal in the modern population, indicative of extensive gene flow and virtually affecting all regions except East Africa, where dromedary populations have remained relatively isolated. In agreement with archaeological findings, we identify wild dromedaries from the southeast Arabian Peninsula among the founders of the domestic dromedary gene pool. Approximate Bayesian computations further support the “restocking from the wild” hypothesis, with an initial domestication followed by introgression from individuals from wild, now-extinct populations. Compared with other livestock, which show a long history of gene flow with their wild ancestors, we find a high initial diversity relative to the native distribution of the wild ancestor on the Arabian Peninsula and to the brief coexistence of early-domesticated and wild individuals. This study also demonstrates the potential to retrieve ancient DNA sequences from osseous remains excavated in hot and dry desert environments. Link to full paper in PNAS