Why cockroach personalities and the origin of dogs matter

cockroach, dog, evolution, biology, scienceIn the last week we’ve seen some interesting news – and it has a surprising lesson for those wanting to protect fur-bearing animals.

Cockroaches, one of the most despised insects on the planet, have individual personalities. In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, authors noted that “we show that individuals have consistent behaviour which can differ between individuals in a group – cockroaches have personalities.”

“Different personalities are thought to help the survival of the species because by driving different behaviour it increases the chances of at least some surviving when disaster strikes,” wrote Guardian.com journalist Lewis Smith. “The personalities of individuals can also, the team found, affect the behaviour of groups of cockroaches.”

The ongoing debate as to how long ago wolves evolved into domestic dogs had another twist thrown into it, with one study now indicating the change took place 15,000 years later than originally thought.

Dog skulls believed to be approximately 32,000 years old were retested using new 3D imaging technology by Skidmore College. Further analysis showed they were, in fact, wolf skulls, meaning that domestication theories are still up for debate.

Read more on DailyScienceJournal.com

Why do these unrelated studies connect to fur-bearing animals?

Because they show our vast lack of knowledge. We’ve lived alongside dogs for at least 15,000 years and still aren’t sure when they stopped being wolves and started being Fido. There are 4,500 species of cockroaches and their numbers, estimated to be extremely high, are unknown worldwide. Yet we’ve just now, after hundreds of years living with them, learned that they have individual personalities.

Despite this glaring lack of knowledge, we’re somehow able to decide the fate of individual animals – from wolves and coyotes to raccoons and squirrels. We know a lot – but there is a lot we don’t know. And to think that we’re willing to make decisions for the future of these individuals when we don’t truly understand them… well, that’s just not right.

Our governments need to put money into wildlife research – long-term, sustainable funding to truly increase our understanding, before we create more policy that brings our environment to a quick, ugly end.


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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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