AFRICAN WILD DOGS
On safari in South Africa last December, my family and I got very close to a pack of African wild dogs (or Lycaon pictus). They are unique to Africa (lions and cheetah for example can be found in places like India, but not wild dogs). They started out a bit like a sausage dog, with short legs and a long body. That was 40 million years ago and one of their descendants is the bear.
What is neat about them today is they have evolved into efficient painted predators that are intensely social animals. They let their pups feed first at a kill, they care for the sick and injured, they adopt new members, and they mourn their deceased. Adding to this is their wonderful vocalization and extension of their social world. It is an advanced communication that sounds excitedly squeaky, and is a unique and key strength of pack unity.