There is no doubt that for every owner the best pet in the world is theirs, or at least it should be. Nature, however, is much more cruel: Darwin taught us that the animal that knows how to adapt best survives and that the one that does not know how to do so is condemned to disappear.
In case anyone still has a teenage complex and is still wondering if Hulk is stronger than Thor or vice versa, a new study reveals which family of animals, canines or felines, is superior by one evolutionary point of view. The answer: cats.
As the study explains conducted by researchers from the universities of Gothenburg, Lausanne and Sao Paulo and published in Pnas, felines are responsible for the extinction of a large number of canid species millions of years ago. According to this research, entitled “The role of inter-clade competition in the diversification of North American canids,” it was not climate change or any other external agent that caused the extinction of a large number of dog breeds. , but competition with felines which were developing at the same time.
The hidden charm of felines
Through the analysis of 2,000 fossils, researchers concluded that the arrival of felines in North America from Asia wreaked havoc on the dog population, which saw up to 40 breeds disappear completely. It was not environmental conditions that, as in the case of dinosaurs, caused the extinction of these animals, but competition with other carnivorous species like cats that led to their devastation, explains author Daniele Silvastro , from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.
If it was the cats who won this bloody war and not the dogs, it is because the latter had certain adaptive advantages. In this case, they were much more skilled hunters, which allowed them, in certain regions and in times of shortage, to obtain food resources more easily, thus depriving many breeds of dogs of their sustenance. Until the arrival of felines, around thirty species of canids lived in North America, a diversity which reached its peak around 22 million years ago. Today, there are only nine left.
While cats have caused the extinction of many dog breeds, there is no record of the reverse.
Research indicates that while some species of canids, such as wolves, were very adept at chasing their prey at high speeds, other species hunted in much the same way as cats, by ambushing their prey. As felines were even more gifted than dogs at this technique, they outcompeted them, leading to the extinction of many of these species.
One of the reasons why cats are at an advantage in such situations is that they have retractable claws that they can hide most of the time and only come out when they are about to attack their prey. This is not the case for dogs, which puts them at a disadvantage. “Felines must have been more effective predators than most extinct species of the canid family,” is the main conclusion of the study, which also highlights that if cats were at the origin of the disappearance of many dog breeds, the opposite has never been observed. So, if in the future humans disappear and only our pets remain, cat owners will be much happier than dog owners. Let nothing happen to us.
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