It is stated that Charles Darwin meant the term “survival of the fittest” to be a metaphor that represents certain organisms that adapt to their existing conditions and are best able to survive. Stray dogs located in Moscow, Russia have learned to use the subway system to commute to and from the city centre to feed off food scraps. Every morning among the human rush hour dogs too board the subway and travel to the city for a hard day of scavenging. After a long day of foraging and filling their bellies they board the subways again and head back to the suburban areas of Moscow to rest their heads for the night.
Researchers studying the stray dogs and their behavior suggest that the dogs have learned the length of time needed to be aboard the subway car to reach their desired destination. Dr. Andrew Poiarkov, of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute states “the best scavenging for food is in the city centre, the dogs had to learn how to travel on the subway-to get to the centre in the mornings, then back home in the evening, just like people”. The dogs have adapted to the city/suburban environment and use the subway system as a survival tactic.
Another behavior displayed by many of the local stray dogs is what they call “the hunt for shawarna”. Shawarna is a popular cuisine in Moscow among humans as well as stray dogs. After a human has purchased their shawarna from a street vendor the dog quietly approaches them from behind and barks-forcing the human to drop their tasty dish. The dog then snatches the yummy treat and fills his belly with the popular Russian cuisine. Dr. Poiarkov states “this method of ambushing people is widely exercised by Moscow dogs suggesting it is an adaptive measure the dogs have learned and is needed for their survival”.
These modern stray dogs have learned a new urban way of hunting by adapting to existing conditions. Once Russia became more commercialized garbage scraps became scarce and new attempts at survival such as “the hunt for shawarna” were created. The stray dogs of Moscow may be the smartest dogs ever!
Angeline Latsch (2)