Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Oldest Domesticated Dogs In Croatia From 7500 Years Ago

November 3, 2020 - Croatia is well known as a dog-loving country, but just how long have there been domesticated dogs in Croatia? The oldest evidence is 7500 - 8000 years old

A new study published in the scientific journal Science ‘Origins and genetic legacy of prehistoric dogs’ has revealed fascinating details about the history of dogs, their origins and their co-existence with man. Lead by scientists from the University of Oxford, the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Vienna, four experts on Dogs in Croatia also participated: Dr. Sc. Dragana Rajković (Archaeological Museum, Osijek), Ph.D. Daria Ložnjak Dizdar (Institute of Archaeology Zagreb), Ph.D. Maja Pasarić (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb) and Dr. Sc. Mario Novak (Institute of Anthropology, Zagreb).

The study shows that around 11,000 years ago, at least five major historical dog breeds were separated and dispersed around the world. These breeds were all descended from a now-extinct species of wolf that was alive during the last ice age. These five dog breeds are the forefathers of today's domesticated dogs in Croatia, and everywhere else.

In an interview with Vecernji List, Dr Mario Novak explained some of the study's findings. He said that canines in Europe from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, including dogs in Croatia, appear to originate from two very different populations, one associated with Middle Eastern dogs and the other with Siberian dogs. Research has shown that over the last 10,000 years these early breeds have mixed and created the dogs as we know them today.

Screenshot68.pngThe archaeological site where evidence of the oldest domesticated dogs in Croatia was found is directly to the east of the modern city. You pass by the area of this former Neolithic settlement when you travel between the city and Zadar airport © Wikipedia

In their current forms, today's humans have existed for more than 40,000 years and dogs for about 14,500 years. The oldest evidence of modern domesticated dogs in Croatia come from remains found near Zadar. They have been dated to between 7500 and 8000 years old. There are six breeds of dogs that are today recognised as being indigenous to Croatia - Croatian sheepdog, Dalmatian, Istrian Coarse-haired Hound, Istrian Shorthaired Hound, Posavac Hound and the Tornjak. The vast majority of modern dog breeds originated over the last 200 years, so it is not clear if the oldest remains of dogs in Croatia are related to the indigenous breeds of today's dogs in Croatia.

“The question of why man and dog decided to coexist together is still not fully explained,” said Dr Novak to Vecernji List. “The relationship between man and dog is a very complex issue - this relationship is not one-way and most likely arose for mutual benefit, i.e. people realized the benefit they get from dogs and vice versa. The process most likely began about 25,000 years ago, and according to archaeological evidence, the process could have been completed approximately 14,500 years ago.”


F5.large.jpgGraphic explaining ancestry of global dogs today, from the study

Dr Novak stated that the oldest evidence of modern domesticated dogs in Croatia comes from remains found in the Early Neolithic layer of the Crno vrilo archaeological site near Zadar. A fragment of the dog's lower jaw and two teeth from this site were dated to be approximately 7500-8000 years old. The ancient genomes of dogs in Croatia were sequenced for the first time in the Science journal study. One is from the Aljmaš - Podunavlje archaeological site, a Copper Age settlement (around 2600-2400 BC), the other from the site Sotin - Srednjea field, an older Copper Age settlement (around 3000-2900 BC).

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Monday, 26 October 2020

VIDEO: Large Poskok Vipers Seen and Filmed in Vodice

October 26, 2020 – One of the largest Poskok vipers has been spotted in the area around Vodice, another was filmed hanging from a tree

Autumn in Croatia is the time of harvest, when the land gives up its bounty in preparation for winter and spring renewal. Those taking part in the harvest near the Dalmatian town of Vodice are sure to be extra vigilant over forthcoming days as local media has reported sightings of poskok vipers in the local.

One local resident detailed to infovodice.com that they had seen a specimen of almost 100cm in length. This is the maximum size an adult can reach (they are usually only around 85cm). Another of the poskok vipers was filmed hanging from a tree.

Vipera ammodytes is known as the poskok in Croatia. This species of viper is only found in southern Europe and parts of the Middle East. Although commonly called the sand viper, it actually prefers to live on dry, rocky hillsides with sparse vegetation, although it can be found on the edges of woodland and in woodland clearings.

The most northerly regions in which poskok vipers can be found are southern Austria, north-east Italy and Slovenia. They can be found as far east as Georgia, Syria and eastern Turkey. They are most commonly found within the countries of the Balkan peninsula.

Snake_cr_900p.jpg© Plamen Grigorov

In Croatia, it's possible to find them living throughout Dalmatia and Istria, on the islands of Krk, Pag, Vir, Ugljan, Pašman, Korčula, Hvar, Brač and Mljet and in the continental regions of Lika, Medvednica, Žumberak, Banovina, Kordun, Gorski kotar, Kalnik, Zagora and Hrvatsko Zagorje.

Poskok vipers are a protected species in Croatia. Although they carry the deadliest venom of any snake to be found in Europe, they do not usually attack people unless provoked. However, they can be provoked unwittingly.

Depending on the region and the temperature, in the autumn months, the snakes can climb into trees. They do so to keep warm and to hunt for birds which, alongside small mammals and lizards, form the base of their diets. They hunt larger prey by first biting with their venom, then tracking the poisoned prey until it succumbs to the bite.

horned-viper-1329241_1920.jpg© Andrea Bohl

People are at particular risk to the vipers while they are in the trees as they can unknowingly walk close enough to the snake to make it feel threatened. Between August and the end of October, female poskok vipers give birth.

Poskok vipers can react unpredictably when they feel they are in danger. Some remain motionless and hiss loudly, some hiss and then flee, while still others will immediately attempt to bite. It is this unpredictability that gives poskok vipers their Croatian name – poskok meaning 'jumping' snake. The snake doesn't actually jump, but it can strike and bite faster than any other European snake. It coils itself over the back of its body and then throws its front towards its victim and has a considerable reach when doing so, of up to 40 centimetres.

On average, bites from poskok vipers account for around 25 hospitalisations each year in Croatia. Deaths occurring as a result of a bite are these days extremely rare. Although the snakes can be mistakenly disturbed in the autumn, the most common period for poskok bites on humans in Croatia is actually between May and June. The venom of poskok vipers is used to make antidote serum used to treat bites from all European vipers. Poskok vipers are farmed in some parts of Europe specifically for this purpose.

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Friday, 2 October 2020

Vukovar Student Becomes Croatia's First Animal Rights Lawyer

October 2, 2020 - Ivana Kramer from Vukovar became Croatia's first animal rights lawyer after graduating from the Faculty Of Law in Osijek

Ivana Kramer from Vukovar has become Croatia's first animal rights lawyer. She did so after graduating from the Faculty Of Law in Osijek, having received her diploma on September 23. The Faculty Of Law in Osijek is the only one in Croatia that has an elective course in animal rights.

In a recent interview with Vecernji List's Suzana Lepan Štefančić, Ivana explained that her desire to become Croatia's first animal rights lawyer stemmed from always having been around animals. “I have three dogs,” she said, in explaining her choice of the elective course in animal rights, “and my mother Željka adopts and helps abandoned animals.”

120042791_3420872644618415_3832651845655021931_n.jpg
Some of the animals that Ivana's mum Željka looks after in Vukovar. Photos from the Facebook of Željka Kramer.

Ivana commuted to the Faculty Of Law in Osijek for five years in order to complete the course, choosing to stay living at home in Vukovar rather than move to the Slavonian capital. She says she would ideally like to stay in Vukovar to begin working in this field of law.

Her elective course in animal rights was undertaken in the final year of her studies and was the step that propelled her to the status of Croatia's first animal rights lawyer. During this final year, she researched the Animal Protection Act, which was implemented in 2017, with an emphasis on the situation in the Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties. Her research included dog shelters in Vukovar and Osijek, where she occasionally volunteers.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2020

VIDEO: Huge Whale Visits Croatia - This Summer's Second Sizeable Visitor

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 – Beyonce and Jay Z might be the biggest stars to visit Croatia this summer, but they're certainly not the biggest in size. In this stunning video, a huge whale visits Croatia

Croatia is never short of celebrity guests. This summer alone, the country's Adriatic shores and islands have been visited by Owen Wilson, Beyonce and Jay Z, and Lepa Brena and Lily Allen. But, such stars are dwarfed in comparison to the latest visitor.

A huge whale visits Croatia this week and its movements have been captured spectacularly by drone footage. In the video from the Blue World Institute, you can see the epic creature side-by-side with a fishing vessel. The boat is not small, yet it looks tiny next to this beast.


Video: A huge whale visits Croatia © Blue World Institute

Shots of this huge whale visits Croatia were taken by drone above the Velebit Channel in Dalmatia. It is not the first visitor of its kind this year. Earlier in the summer, the same Blue World Institute managed to grab some footage of a fin whale in the Adriatic (pictured below). Only last time, they didn't have their drone.

image.jpg
© Blue World Institute

The video was taken by the researchers on Saturday 5 September at the entrance to Novsko ždrilo. They followed the whale for about two hours, up to the Maslenica bridge where he turned back into the Velebit Channel and swam in the direction of Vinjerac.

The researchers took the video of this huge whale visits Croatia to analyze the size and health of the mammal. The footage allowed the researchers to determine that this was not the same animal they filmed in the same area in mid-August. When the whale swam close to their boat, researchers managed to obtain a small skin sample in order to perform a biopsy. They monitored the whale's progress and saw it again on the morning of Sunday 6 September, north of Novsko ždrilo.

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Wednesday, 3 July 2019

VIDEO: Tourist Films One of Largest European Snakes in Croatian Waters

First sharks, now snakes! After a Mako shark entertained us with his (or her) journey up and down the Dalmatian coast recently, followed by a blue shark relaxing near the shoreline in Primošten, seeing numerous people capture impressive footage, now snakes fancy their turn in the limelight. 

As Morski writes on the 2nd of July, 2019, a Hungarian tourist managed to capture footage of one of the largest European snakes swimming along near Kaprije, the recording was captured more specifically between the islands of Kakan and Borovnjak Veli, in the Šibenik region.

Upon receiving the unusual piece of footage of the snake, which can also be seen attempting to leave the water to board a boat, Morski consulted expert Andrej Simčić, who has been studying reptiles which live in Croatia for a long time, about the snake in the video.

''He's a Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata), the longest European snake. They grow to about two and a half metres in length, maybe even a little over that, and they aren't venomous. They bite only very rarely, and they're more likely to hiss to warn those who approach, and look for every possible opportunity to escape. It's highly unlikely that this type of snake will bite, even if you hold one in your hand. In the spring, they eat young and old birds, they climb up trees, but the majority of their diet is made up of rodents - this snake is actually very useful. All snakes can swim, so this video isn't a rare one. It's possible that he was in a tree just above the sea and fell down, and he wanted to climb up onto the boat, which is natural because he wanted to be on dry land,'' explained Simčić.

Watch the video of the snake here:

Morski

He also added that there are three types of venomous snakes which live on the territory of Croatia, the most famous of them all being the Poskok (Horned Viper). While all of them pose a threat, none of them can kill a human who is healthy and with a normally functioning immune system. He stated that more serious consequences can occur however, if a child, older person or someone with a poor immune system is bitten.

In any case, it's worth remembering that snakes typically do not seek human contact, and will only bite if they feel threatened, preferring to escape or give you enough warning to do the same.

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