The dog (Canis lupus familiaris, is a domesticated form of the wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The domestic dog has been one of the most widely kept working and companion animals in human history. The word "dog" may also mean the male of a canine species, as opposed to the word "bitch" for the female of the species.
The dog quickly became ubiquitous across culture across the world, and was extremely valuable to early human settlements. For instance, it is believed that the successful emigration across the Bering Strait might not have been possible without sled dogs. Dogs perform many roles for people, such as hunting, herding, protection, assisting police and military, companionship, and, more recently, aiding handicapped individuals. This versatility, more than almost any other known animal, has given them the nickname "Man's best friend" in the western world. Currently, there are estimated to be 400 million dogs in the world.
Over the 15,000 year span that the dog had been domesticated, it diverged into only a handful of landraces, groups of similar animals whose morphology and behavior have been shaped by environmental factors and functional roles. As the modern understanding of genetics developed, humans began to intentionally breed dogs for a wide range of specific traits. Through this process, the dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds, and shows more behavioral and morphological variation than any other land mammal. For example, height measured to the withers ranges from a few inches in the Chihuahua to a few feet in the Irish Wolfhound; color varies from white through grays (usually called "blue'") to black, and browns from light (tan) to dark ("red" or "chocolate") in a wide variation of patterns; coats can be short or long, coarse-haired to wool-like, straight, curly, or smooth. It is common for most breeds to shed this coat.
The cat (Felis catus), also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felines and felids, is a small domesticated carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and its ability to hunt vermin and household pests. Cats have been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years, and are currently the most popular pet in the world. Due to their close association with humans, cats are now found almost everywhere on Earth. This extreme adaptability and their worrying impacts on native animals has led to them being classed as an invasive species. Most of these problems are caused by the large number of feral cats worldwide, with a population of up to 60 million of these animals in the United States alone.
Cats are similar in size and anatomy to the other Felids, with light, flexible bodies and teeth adapted to killing small prey. A skilled predator, the cat hunts over 1,000 species for food, using its excellent eyesight and hearing. Unusually, cats have lost the ability to taste sugar and in some breeds show hereditary deafness. Despite being solitary hunters, cats are a social species and use a variety of vocalizations, pheromones and types of body language for communication. These include meowing, purring, trilling, hissing, growling, and grunting. They are also bred and shown as registered pedigree pets. This hobby is known as cat fancy.
As The New York Times wrote in 2007, "Until recently the cat was commonly believed to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it was a cult animal." A study that year found that the lines of descent of all house cats probably run through as few as five self-domesticating African Wildcats (Felis silvestris lybica) circa 8000 BC, in the Near East. The earliest direct evidence of cat domestication is a kitten that was buried with its owner 9,500 years ago in Cyprus.
Domestic sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over 1 billion, domestic sheep are the most numerous species in their genus.
Sheep are most likely descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. One of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes, sheep are raised for fleece, meat (lamb, hogget or mutton) and milk. A sheep's wool is the most widely used of any animal, and is usually harvested by shearing. Ovine meat is called lamb when from younger animals and mutton when from older ones. Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, and are also occasionally raised for pelts, as dairy animals, or as model organisms for science.
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