STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 October 2016

A Skipped Dog

I skipped yesterday's post entirely. The lack of popular reference materials for borophagine canines makes writing a post on the popular reference materials moot prior to placing pen on paper, or fingers on keys in this instance. Borophagus may not have been overly popular in the culture, but it makes many appearances in many illustrations and, as we saw on Tuesday, it has been rather well studied prior to and after the lumping of several genera into the singular Borophagus. This is in part due to its odd capability to crack bones in a style similar to hyenas but it also because this bone-cracking dog is recognizably a dog. The combination of the animal's feeding ability and our human ability to recognize the animal as a dog make it intriguing and wondrous, and that makes us want to see more and more art and discover more and more secrets about the canid. One thing that is known for sure about the canid, by both science and artists, is that the shortened face, large molars, and novel bone-cracking surface (4th instead of 3rd molar as in hyenas) of Borophagus has painted a readily identifiable picture of the animal. The shortened face also immediately contains notes that, in the United States at least, brings up thoughts of some of the most fierce dogs that are regularly bred, like pitbulls (we are told time and again by different outlets that these dogs are aggressive and can be violent). This and the penchant for paleo-artists to paint the hunting activities of carnivores may explain why there are not many cuddly dog images associated with Borophagus.

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