Journal archives for January 2024

January 02, 2024

A compendium of the biological peculiarities of the roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus)

Posted on January 02, 2024 09:54 AM by milewski milewski | 8 comments | Leave a comment

January 03, 2024

Adaptive radiation of auricular flags in hippotragin bovids: Hippotragus, Oryx, and Addax, part 2

...continued from


Species qualifying for an anterior auricular flag are

  • Hippotragus equinus (juveniles),
  • Oryx gazella and Oryx beisa (which share a pattern),
  • Oryx callotis (which differs in pattern from O. beisa), and
  • possibly Addax nasomaculatus (winter pelage).

The clearest depictions so far, of an anterior auricular flag in A. nasomaculatus, are:
scroll to second photo in


The bare skin at the centre of the front-of-ear is

This partly reflects an ecological difference, viz. that Hippotragus is more shade- and water-dependent than Oryx. I have yet to see any photo clearly revealing the degree of pigmentation in the case of A. nasomaculatus, in which - paradoxically for a species extremely adapted to desert - the ear pinna does not seem to function as a thermoregulatory panel.

As in my study of dark flank-bands (, I find O. callotis to be surprisingly different from O. beisa. This suggests that these are different species, not merely subspecies.

The colouration of the ears in hippotragins has radiated, evolutionarily, to the same degree as the facial colouration, but not necessarily in ways congruent with the latter. The emphases only partly correspond.

This evolutionary radiation involves

  • size of ear pinna (largest in H. equinus, smallest in O. dammah)
  • shape of ear pinna (sickle-shaped in H. equinus, narrow in H. niger, O. callotis and A. nasomaculatus, broad in O. gazella, nondescript-oval in O. dammah, O. leucoryx and O. beisa)
  • degree to which the pelage on the front-of-ear opens to shed body heat under thermoregulatory stress (obvious in H. niger, discernible in O. beisa, yet to be detected in A nasomaculatus)
  • apical tufting of ear pinna (only in H. equinus and O. callotis, and individually variable in both spp.)
  • density/length/coverage of pelage on the front-of-ear (hairs long and dense in H. equinus and A. nasomaculatus, short and sparse in most spp. of Oryx, intermediate in O. callotis and H. niger)
  • visible degree of pigmentation of bare skin on front-of-ear (maximal = blackish in Oryx spp., minimal = flesh-coloured in H. niger)
  • pallor (= depigmentation) of pelage on ear pinna (whitish in Hippotragus, A. nasomaculatus, and most spp. of Oryx, medium-tone in O. callotis)
  • apical darkness (without tufting) on ear pinna (absent without trace in O. dammah and O. leucoryx, small in H. niger and some individuals of H. equinus, medium-size in O. beisa and O. gazella)
  • narrow dark outlining of ear pinna (extensive in O. gazella, restricted and hardly noticeable in O. beisa)
  • involvement of base of ear pinna (noticed, so far, only in O. gazella and A. nasomaculatus in winter pelage)
  • exaggeration of size of ear pinna in juveniles (noticeable only in Hippotragus,
  • sexual dimorphism (pallor on back-of-ear in H. equinus in mature males, see

My impression is that variation among hippotragins in the proportional size of the ear pinnae is adaptive more in terms of signalling (facial expression) than in terms of thermoregulation or acuteness of hearing.

The precociality of the ear in Hippotragus

The dark apical tuft of H. equinus shows

In juveniles, the apical tuft may be as large as the horns ( By contrast, in adolescent males it may wane so completely that not even an apical dark spot remains (

My overall conclusion is as follows.

In hippotragins, the tendency for facial conspicuousness is not paralleled by a commensurate tendency for auricular conspicuousness.

Both the face and the ear pinnae seem maximally conspicuous in O. gazella. However, even in this species, the pale pelage on the front- and back-of-ear do not achieve the whiteness of parts of the face.

What I show in this Post is that an ambivalent conspicuousness of the ears results from a surprising variety (= radiation) of configurations in the various spp. of hippotragins. With respect to the ears, no species could be predicted on the basis of a knowledge of the rest of the species.

This suggests that the ear pinnae and their colouration are finely attuned, adaptively, to the particular habitat and niche of each species.

Hippotragus equinus is perhaps the largest animal on Earth that is specifically adapted to moist/dystrophic savannas, with accordingly modified anatomy, nutrition, physiology, immunology, sociosexual organisation, mutualism with other spp,, etc. Its ears are part of a distinctive syndrome, in ways that remain to be explained.


to be continued in

Posted on January 03, 2024 11:23 PM by milewski milewski | 30 comments | Leave a comment

January 05, 2024

Adaptive radiation of auricular flags in hippotragin bovids: Hippotragus, Oryx, and Addax, part 3

...continued from


Dear Readers, in order to refresh your search-image for posterior auricular flags, I offer the following of a reduncin bovid, Kobus defassa harnieri (

The above photo nicely illustrates how a given species/subspecies can have ear pinnae with conspicuois colouration, at moderate distances from the observer, on both the front- and back-of-ear.

Returning now to apply this search-image to hippotragins:

In most hippotragins, the back-of-ear has unremarkable colouration, as shown by the following:

Hippotragus equinus adult females:

Oryx dammah:

Oryx leucoryx:

Oryx beisa:

Addax nasomaculatus in summer pelage:

However, there are several exceptions, by

  • species,
  • sex, and
  • season.

Furthermore, posterior auricular flags in hippotragins result from

  • pigmentation/depigmentation, and/or
  • sheen effects, reflecting the structure of the hairs on the back-of-ear.

Species possibly qualifying for a posterior auricular flag (which may include the base of the ear pinna) are

An additional species, unlikely to qualify, but showing a suggestive pattern, is

  • Hippotragus niger.


The following show that the back-of-ear may possibly be pale enough, in adult males, to qualify for a posterior auricular flag ( and and and and

I have yet to see this pallor in adult or adolescent females ( and and and and and

Photos show evidence of sexual dimorphism in a (sheeny?) pallor on the back-of-ear in H. equinus, as follows:

This masculine auricular pallor is unusual among ungulates, and deserves further investigation. In particular:

For further information, please see comment below titled 'various views of the back-of-ear in the roan antelope'.


A case could possibly be made for a posterior auricular flag in adult males ( and mature females ( and second and third photos in

However, the back-of-ear is not consistently pale enough for this to be clear ( and

Differentiation of the back-of-ear by hue in H. niger does not qualify in the terms of this study, which heeds only darkness vs paleness ( and and and and

However, my disqualification of H. niger may warrant re-evaluation.

The clearest evidence I have found for a posterior auricular flag in H. niger is the following of a fully mature female individual, in which even the crown has turned dark:

The following - remarkably fortuitously - shows the anterior surface of the ear pinna in the same individual in the same illumination, for direct comparison:


Oryx gazella seems to qualify for a posterior auricular flag. However, this is so subtle that I scrolled through hundreds of photos before noticing it.

The pigmentation on the posterior surface of the ear pinna is similar to the ground-colour.

There is dark apical emphasis (, as on the front-of-ear. However, this is usually insufficient to make the back-of-ear conspicuous:

What I noticed after persistent investigation is that the back-of-ear sometimes appears conspicuously pale, accentuated by its apical darkness:
scroll in

This is owing to sheen, rather than depigmentation.

Furthermore, the sheen-effect is more consistent when the posterior surface of the ear pinna is viewed from the front:

The posterior auricular flag tends to be most noticeable when the animal faces the viewer, close-up, with the ear pinnae rotated. This suggests an emotional signal, probably in antagonistic interactions.

I hypothesise that, by human analogy, this facial expression communicates a message similar to that of a disapproving frown or an angry furrowing of the eyebrows (,closer%20together)%20%5B4%5D.).

A similar functional explanation may possibly apply to H. equinus, with the difference that it applies only in mature males in the latter species.


Addax nasomaculatus fails to qualify for either an anterior (see part 2) or a posterior auricular flag, in summer pelage.

However, it qualifies for a posterior auricular flag ( and and, in winter pelage.

The whole posterior surface of the ear pinna in A. nasomaculatus is conspicuous in winter pelage, because it is whitish in contrast with the ground-colour on neck, nape, and crown (

Also see:

Posted on January 05, 2024 04:11 PM by milewski milewski | 7 comments | Leave a comment

January 08, 2024

Dark flank-band in reduncin bovids

Among bovids, a dark flank-band occurs in

Posted on January 08, 2024 02:44 AM by milewski milewski | 11 comments | Leave a comment

January 13, 2024

A photo-guide to the two most different subspecies of the roan antelope: Hippotragus equinus koba of West Africa versus Hippotragus e. equinus/cottoni of southern Africa

@tonyrebelo @jeremygilmore @jakob @jwidness @michalsloviak @dejong @matthewinabinett @variani18 @ldacosta @rion_c @simontonge @nyoni-pete @oebenin @elisebakker @oumarouhamadou @paradoxornithidae @tandala


The roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus, is an unusually widespread species of African bovid.

It spans the continent from far-West Africa to Eritrea, and southward to subtropical South Africa ( and

Given this vast range, we might expect that distinct subspecies occur (

However, Groves and Grubb (2011, pages 198-201, including Table 53, in, in their taxonomic revision of all the ungulates of the world, failed to verify any subspecies of the roan antelope.

Their revision was based on museum specimens, ignoring photographic evidence such as that now available electonically.

Factors that have retarded/complicated verification of subspecies of the roan antelope in the past include:

  • individual variation combined with small numbers of specimens from any given geographical area (Groves and Grubb 2011),
  • far more sexual dimorphism in South Sudan than at similar latitudes in West Africa (Groves and Grubb 2011),
  • questionable disjunction in the distribution of the nominate subspecies, between South Africa and Namibia, and
  • the lack, to this day, of photos of bakeri/doggetti/scharicus in inaccessible South Sudan (


My perusal of observations in iNaturalist, and photos elsewhere on the Web, has shown certain fairly consistent differences, particularly in colouration, between the subspecies at the extremes of the geographical range.

Most of these subspecific differences were unbeknownst to Groves and Grubb (2011), and to this day no other taxonomist seems to have noticed them.

Please bear in mind that all of the following are subject to individual variation - which is more important than sexual differences.

The ground-colour of the West African subspecies (H. e. koba) tends to be relatively bright-hued (Groves and Grubb 2011), with minimal grizzling and relatively short pelage. The hues are difficult to compare photographically, owing to vagaries of illumination and technique.

However, the extreme length and pallor of the beard, shown in the following captive specimens of Hippotragus equinus equinus/cottoni, are - as far as I know - never seen in H. e. koba:
adult female

Another fairly obvious difference is that, in the West African subspecies (H. e. koba) relative to the southern African subspecies (H. e. equinus/cottoni), dark pelage can be

Let us now examine, in particular, the tendency - consistently visible in photos - for the dark pelage on the face to be more extensive in the West African than in the southern African subspecies.


A conspicuously pale feature to focus on is the preorbital tuft, located anterior and ventral to the eye.

Dear Reader, can you spot the difference between and, in the size and shape of the preorbital tuft?

In infancy in both subspecies, the nucleus of the dark 'mask' appears, on

From this nucleus the darkness spreads (, according to age and sex,

This spread tends ultimately to be greater in H. e. koba than in H. e. equinus/cottoni; in fully mature males of the former, the face becomes mainly black.

In H. e. koba, even the following are subject to discoloration in some individuals:


Now, let us approach various facial and other features in detail:

In the West African subspecies,


In the following pairwise comparisons, I illustrate the above aspects of ssp. koba of West Africa relative ssp. equinus/cottoni of southern Africa:


One of the most remarkable facts about the roan antelope is how little it varies across a vast - and somewhat disjunct - geographical distribution.

As a result, populations more than ten thousand kilometres apart (Senegal,, versus North West Province of South Africa, appear so similar, in photos, that their subspecific distinction could be doubted.

However, there are two differences that, although slight, may as well be categorical in the overall impression they leave on the human viewer. These are

  • the southern African subspecies qualifies for the description of 'roan' colouration, whereas the West African subspecies does not, and
  • in adult males in full-frontal view, the conspicuousness of the face is owing mainly to the blackish component in the West African subspecies, vs the whitish component in the southern African subspecies.

Were it the historical case that the species had become well-known in West Africa (francophone) before South Africa (anglophone), it would probably not have been given the name 'roan antelope' (French: 'antilope rouanne'). A more apt name for H. e. koba might have been 'antilope masquee' ('masked antelope').

This is because the ground-colour in West Africa is not reminiscent of roan colouration in the domestic horse ( and and

Perhaps the first diagnostic feature to focus on, in most photos, is the preorbital tuft, which is whitish, surrounded by dark, short pelage.

The following, of H. e. equinus/cottoni, show the maximum development of the whitish preorbital tuft: and

The following, of H. e. koba, shows how much smaller this feature is in the West African subspecies:

The difference in the size of the preorbital tuft is

  • apparent already in infants, and
  • consistent with the overall difference: H. e. equinus/cottoni is the hairier/shaggier also on the neck/throat, torso, and anterior surface of the ear pinnae.

However, it is noteworthy that

  • the latter generalisation does not extend to the dark tuft - typical of the whole species - at the tip of the ear pinna. In both subspecies, this feature varies mainly ontogenetically and individually, not geographically, and
  • the facial emphasis on darkness in H. e. koba does not apply to the ear pinna, which in mature males not only loses the dark tuft seen in juvenile males, but also tends to lose any apical darkness whatsoever.

The West African subspecies is larger-bodied than the southern African subspecies. Mature males weigh respectively about 300 kg and 250 kg (

To the trained eye, this difference is hinted at by the proportionately slightly smaller post-withers mane-tuft in H. e. koba (

The caudo-ischial flag ( is somewhat more poorly-developed in H. e. koba than in H. e. equinus/cottoni.

The converse is true in the case of an incipient/residual pedal flag. This pattern is slight, even in H. e. koba.

Posted on January 13, 2024 01:27 AM by milewski milewski | 40 comments | Leave a comment

January 19, 2024

How grazers use their mouths to detach grass: 'biting methods' in ungulates


Hippopotamus amphibius

Hexaprotodon liberiensis




Bos taurus



Posted on January 19, 2024 04:24 AM by milewski milewski | 1 comment | Leave a comment

Testing the idea of a new ancestor (Canis rubronegrus) for the domestic dog: do extant wolves/jackals show traces of black-and-tan colouration? part 1

Does the 'black-and-tan' pattern in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) indicate an extinct, previously unsuspected ancestor?

This 'primeval' pattern occurs with remarkable frequency and consistency in many breeds, including otherwise extremely modified breeds.

The colouration of the pelage is typically blackish (ground colour) and reddish-brown (various features arranged from the face and feet to the posterior, in a composite pattern).

However, the colours 'black' and 'tan', as such, are not what we should focus on, because the actual tones and hues vary greatly.

Instead, what is noteworthy is that a relatively dark tone on the crown, nape, back, flanks, rump, and upper legs is offset by a relatively pale tone on various peripheral parts of the figure, with an elaborate configuration of distinct borders between the two tones.

The following illustrate this bilaterally symmetrical pattern, in which 'black' and 'tan' are indicative rather than literal descriptors:

The pattern is complete already at birth (

The systemic integrity of the black-and-tan pattern suggests that it has been inherited from whichever species is the main wild ancestor of the domestic dog.

This is as opposed to its having been recently created by the non-adaptive mutations so typical of domestic animals.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that selection by human breeders of the domestic dog would have produced a distinct and individually variable - but nonetheless symmetrical - ischial feature.

I refer to a 'natural-looking' pale patch on the buttocks (, which is intrinsic to the black-and-tan pattern.

It seems unlikely that the ischial feature ( is anthropogenic, because canine buttocks are not an aesthetic locus in human eyes.

There are hundreds of millions of photos of the domestic dog on the Web, but it is hard to find any that focus on the buttocks, beyond veterinary illustrations. Most of the few depictions of the ischial feature available on the Web are inadvertent/fortuitous (
One exception is

For these reasons, I have invoked an extinct, previously unsuspected ancestor, and dubbed this 'Canis rubronegrus' (

A major aspect of the rationale for Canis rubronegrus as the main ancestor of the domestic dog is that no extant wild species of Canis, including the wolf (Canis lupus), shows the black-and-tan colouration.

However, let us play devil's advocate (

A possible counter-rationale is as follows:

  • The pattern in question occurs in partial and residual/incipient form in all of the extant wild spp. of Canis.
  • This includes the wolf, which has certainly been a partial ancestor of the domestic dog, and is - according to most authors - its main ancestor.
  • These traces might, theoretically, have been accentuated anthropogenically - albeit inadvertently - along with the other changes in colouration in the derivation of the domestic dog from the wolf.

I have written this Post in the spirit of testing my own hypothesis.

This leads me to confirm that, in detraction from my hypothesis:


Overall, the evidence I present in this Post supports the idea that the main ancestor of the domestic dog was an extinct, jackal-like species (Canis rubronegrus), the full black-and-tan pattern of which is still expressed today in, for example,



Please see around the mouth, extending to the crook-of-throat, in and and and


Please see the eyebrows in and and and


Please see the chest in and and and

Pedal (fore and hind):

Please see the fore- and hindfeet in and and and and and and scroll to fourth photo in and and


Please see the buttocks in and and and and and and and and and and and

A peculiarity of the ischial feature (which in some individuals may qualify as an ischial flag) is that it contains a hair-whorl (,and%20source%20of%20the%20dog.). According to my observations, this hair-whorl is remarkably variable among individuals, a point hard to illustrate because few close-up photos are available on the Web.

Throughout this Post, I ignore


Canis latrans

The only features of the black-and-tan pattern in the coyote (Canis latrans) are the bucco-gular ( and pectoral features.

However, there has been widespread hybridisation between the coyote and both the wolf and the domestic dog. Therefore, the pectoral feature may have been absent in the coyote prior to anthropogenic influence.
Scroll to 20th photo in

Canis lupus

In the wolf, as in the coyote, virtually the only features of the black-and-tan pattern are the bucco-gular and pectoral features.

The bucco-gular feature is particularly conspicuous in some individuals.

This is partly because it is extended by/has coalesced with an enlarged, whitish maxillary feature ( and and and However, the superciliary feature is absent.

The wolf has been hybridised (except possibly on Arctic islands) with the domestic dog.

Therefore, the pectoral feature - which is always indistinct in the wolf - may possibly be attributed to Canis rubronegrus, via hybridisation with C. familiaris. The same applies to the superciliary feature, which is slightly expressed in some individuals of the wolf (usually said by extension of the buccal component).

If so, this hybridisation has not conferred any noticeable ischial feature. The buttocks have unremarkable colouration in the wolf ( and and and and and and and and and

The feet are extremely pale in some individuals of the wolf ( However, the border is too nebulous to for this to be ancestral to the black-and-tan pattern.

Canis simensis

The kekebero (Canis simensis) is, of all the extant wild spp. of Canis, the one with the most distinct colouration (

However, even this species differs from the black-and-tan pattern in that the following are absent:

  • the superciliary feature, and
  • the ischial feature.

The whitish pelage adjacent to the base of the tail ( is not the same as the ischial feature. It is part of a caudal flag, not an ischial flag.


  • the pale pelage on the inner (medial) surface of the forefoot extends (as in some individuals of the wolf) nearly as far as the elbow, and
  • the pedal feature on the hindfoot is less, not more, distinct than in the domestic dog.

Canis anthus

The black-and-tan pattern is absent from the North African jackal (Canis anthus), except for the bucco-gular feature. Like the coyote, this species has colouration too nondescript to be a candidate for main ancestor of the domestic dog. and and

Canis aureus

The pectoral feature is expressed in the Asiatic jackal (Canis aureus), second only to the kekebero.

As in all spp. of Canis, the bucco-gular feature is present. Whereas the buccal (and maxillary) component is emphasised in the wolf, the gular component is emphasised in the Asiatic jackal (

All other features, including the superciliary feature, are absent.

to be continued in

Posted on January 19, 2024 09:31 AM by milewski milewski | 65 comments | Leave a comment

January 22, 2024

Ancestral colouration in the Jersey breed of Bos taurus

Posted on January 22, 2024 09:46 AM by milewski milewski | 1 comment | Leave a comment

Does the sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) possess a bleeze? part 1

For criteria of age and sex, please see and and and


The colouration of the sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) is ambivalent, in adaptive terms.

On one hand, this colouration is bold enough that it may qualify as a case of adaptive conspicuousness in aid of gregariousness and group-cohesion - a strategy typically associated with ungulates living in open environments, where attempting to hide is largely futile.

On the other hand, the colouration may function as camouflage when the animals stand, stationary and partly shaded, among trees.

This ambivalence arises partly because the sable antelope is associated with the border between grassland and woodland.

In this Post, I argue that this ambivalence is no accident. Instead, the colouration of the sable antelope is configured in a subtle way, to serve either function, depending on context, i.e. the environment at the time.

When the animals happen to be in the open by day, the colouration tends to function mainly for advertisement. However, when they happen to be among trees, the same colouration tends to function - particularly at night - mainly for concealment.


The following is an elaboration of the argument that the colouration of the sable antelope is inconspicuous in certain situations.

Estes and Estes (1969), in 'The Shimba Hills sable population' (, state:

pages 7-8:
"Of all the large mammals that inhabit the area, none is as much in evidence and as approachable as the sable. However, even herds of this species may readily be overlooked where there are trees and shrubs in the grassland or when the grasses are high, so that it is not certain that we saw all of them. Territorial bulls, which tend to be retiring except when with a herd, are particularly difficult to find.

"page 6:
"...even elephant and buffalo, which are by far the dominant herbivores, numbering in the hundreds, are surprisingly seldom observed, considering that their spoor is ubiquitous. However, there seemed to be an increase in the incidence of daylight sightings during our [10-week] period of residence, suggesting a gradual habituation to auto traffic and a shift to more diurnal habits.

"pages 10-11:
"Nor did the sable show any reluctance to enter high grass and areas of secondary scrub and bush - in fact they often spent a day or more in such places during the rainy months of November and December. There is also some evidence that sable may take refuge in dense cover if pursued, and Glover (pers. comm.) accidently flushed a cow with a newborn calf from a copse in late December, which suggests that females may calve down and/or leave new calves in heavy cover during the concealment period. Otherwise, territorial bulls are more prone to enter forest than are cows, which probably explains why males are rather infrequently seen when alone. In this manner they may compensate for their particularly conspicuous coloration...Compared to the habitats frequented by other sable populations sampled in Tanzania, Zambia, Rhodesia and Botswana, that of the Shimba Hills is unusually open. In general, the sable is found in lightly to moderately wooded country, though typically close to open grassland. Shimba Hills sable may be forced to remain in open grassland because of the absence of suitably open woodland. It is thus not typical sable habitat. On the other hand, sable still inhabit a very similar-looking forest/grassland mosaic in the coastal region of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. In the southern part of their range, sable may be found in open vlei grassland during the dry season, dispersing into miombo-like Baikiaea woodland only during the rains. And in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and the Chimanimani Mountains of Rhodesia, sable occur in montane grassland...In fact, the sable is probably essentially an 'edge' species, and the patches of forest, especially the copses, of the Shimba Hills provide an exceptional amount of edge."

page 19:
"it is by no means certain that sable prefer short to long grass. On the contrary, there is evidence that this species prefers grass of medium length, readily enters high grass, and sometimes will select dry grasses [as food] even though green grasses are available."


The ischio-abdominal pattern in the sable antelope, particularly the southern suspecies (Hippotragus niger niger) seems bold enough to qualify as a bleeze ( and and and and and and

A bleeze, by definition, is a feature/pattern of colouration that is so conspicuous, even at a distance, that it advertises the whole figure ( and

The candidate-bleeze, in this case, consists of the following elements:


In the context of concealment among trees, the first question to ask is why the colouration of the sable antelope is so unlike that coexisting cover-dependent bovids such as the greater kudu (Strepsiceros strepsiceros). The ischio-abdominal pattern may be disruptive of the outline of the figure, but it hardly conforms to the typical markings associated with camouflage.

In the context of self-advertisement in the open, the first question to ask is why the white features are placed in 'compromised' anatomical positions on the figure. In particular,

  • the white on the abdomen is on an often-shaded surface, as opposed to being high enough to catch the light in most illuminations,
  • the white on the buttocks is hardly visible in full profile, and fails to extend on to the rump, and
  • the blackish ground-colour is, depending on the subspecies, absent/reduced in females.

It is only in posteriolateral view, and in slanting sunlight, that the ischio-abdominal pattern is fully conspicuous.

I suggest that the ambivalence described above is 'a feature, not a bug' in the adaptive colouration of the sable antelope. And, accordingly, I reject my own term, 'bleeze', as an apt descriptor of the ischio-abdominal pattern in the sable antelope, even in mature males.

to be continued in

Posted on January 22, 2024 10:24 AM by milewski milewski | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Testing the idea of a new ancestor (Canis rubronegrus) for the domestic dog: do extant wolves/jackals show traces of black-and-tan colouration? part 2

@beartracker @tonyrebelo @jeremygilmore @botswanabugs @paradoxornithidae @maxallen @douglasriverside @dejong @zarek @jwidness @jakob @marcelo_aranda @ptexis @dinofelis @ludwig_muller @gigilaidler @simontonge @bobby23 @matthewinabinett @magcl @saber_animal

...continued from


This scrutiny seems to confirm that none of the extant spp. of Canis qualifies as a plausible main ancestor of the domestic dog, in terms of colouration.

The wolf has

The former seems original in the wolf, and related to the fact that this is the most gregarious species of Canis ( However, the latter may be partly anthropogenic, i.e. the faintly-expressed pectoral feature in the wolf may possibly be owing to hybridisation with the domestic dog.

Most tellingly: there is no ischial feature, to speak of, in the wolf (

With respect to the four extant jackal-like spp.:


Extensive, symmetrical whitish on the face - reminiscent of that in the wolf - is seen in the domestic dog in a few large-bodied breeds ( and and and

There seems no reason to doubt that these breeds are derived partly from the wolf.

The following illustrates the distinction. The breed on the left is derived partly from the wolf, that on the right overwhelmingly from C. rubronegrus:

However, the important point - previously overlooked - is that most of the 339 breeds ( fall into the latter category.

Overall, my interpretation is that the evidence supports the possibility that the main ancestor of the domestic dog is an extinct species, viz. C. rubronegrus, the 'black-and-tan jackal'.

As I see it:
The onus is now on those believing that the domestic dog is derived mainly from the wolf to explain how the ischial flag has arisen:

Please focus on the buttocks in the following of the rottweiler:

Posted on January 22, 2024 09:10 PM by milewski milewski | 25 comments | Leave a comment