Dogs have been man’s best friend for longer than you might think.
“The DNA suggests that [dogs] became domesticated completely somewhere between 20 and 40,000 years ago,” said Gina C. Gould, miSci president and evolutionary biologist.
Starting at 7 p.m. tonight at miSci, she’ll be talking about how that came about and how the Gray Wolf, as well as foxes, coyotes and other members of the Canidae, or dog family, have evolved.
“We’ve been hunting with dogs for easily 20,000 years, maybe more,” Gould said, “There is lots of support to suggest that the befriending of wolves to humans is what gave us the idea to domesticate other animals because they were the first.”
Research also suggests that 6,000 years ago, in ancient Egypt, there were distinct breeds of dogs and cats, said Gould. Today people love their pet Chihuahuas, Great Danes and Beagles.
However, they might not be as familiar with an emerging species in the dog family.
“Right now, in Vancouver Island, they have a new species of wolf emerging. It’s smaller and it swims and it fishes,” Gould said.
Closer to home, many people living close to the Catskills might be familiar with the coywolf, a relatively new subspecies.
“Genetically speaking, they’re an intermingling between coyotes and wolves and some feral dog. So they’re now their own species. They look like a German Shepherd on steroids,” Gould said.
While it sounds rare, it’s not that uncommon.
“This happens all the time. People don’t realize that this occurs,” Gould said.
Gould’s talk, titled “From Beasts to Beagles: The Curious Evolutionary Journey of Dogs,” will be part one of three programs surrounding “Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs,” an exhibition at miSci that runs through September 2. The second part in the series is “Saving a Species: The Recovery of North America’s Wolves,” presented by Regan Downey of Wolves of Westchester at 7 p.m. on July 11. Then, at 7 p.m. on August 8, The Animal Protective will present “The State of Modern Dogs: A Glimpse into the Industry Behind Modern Dog Ownership.”
The cost of attendance is admission to the museum.
Fantastic Bubble Festival
Also coming up at miSci is the Fantastic Bubble Festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
It’s a day filled with bubble-everything: bubble wrap fashions, bubble-themed planetarium shows, a bubble gum shooting range, edible bubbles, etc.
“I think people of all ages are fascinated by bubbles,” said Dan Beck, the director of membership and special events at miSci.
The family event is geared toward kids and adults of all ages and combines fun hands-on activities with the science behind bubbles. Attendees can test out their bubble-shooting skills using air cannons to blast smoke-filled air bubbles out of the sky in the museum’s shooting range. They can also try an edible bubble that explodes with flavor when it pops.
In one activity that will probably make kids to want to brush their teeth, attendees can compare the microorganisms from different pieces of bubble gum from mouths of varying cleanliness.
On the more artistic side, people are encouraged to show off bubble wrap fashion on the “Wrap It Up Runway.” They can also be a bit delinquent and help create the miSci logo out of bubble gum on the bottom of a desk.
The museum’s bubble table and other bubble-themed equipment will be available to experiment with, and there will be a new planetarium show all about the Bubble Nebula or NGC 7635.
The cost of attending the event is museum admission, $8 for children, $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and free for children under 3. The planetarium show is $6. For more info visit misci.org.