Cognition & Reality

Sunday, 3 October 2010

How Dogs Appeared: Wolf And Boy

Filed under: Human Evolution — drtone @ 6:52 am
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Two main explanations are offered for the evolution of dogs from wolves. The first is that humans took wolf puppies and reared them for reasons unknown. The second is that some wolves sought to ally themselves with humans, and that humans recognized the value of the wolf as a hunting partner. This second, more plausible explanation is usually accompanied by the assumption that the wolves originally domesticated were “bold,” because they were not afraid of humans, but were willing to hang out near humans to pick up their scraps. The problem with this scenario is that it  does not explain the wolf’s choice of human scraps over hunting with the pack, the wolf’s family. It also does not account for the close interaction of humans with a “bold” competing predator.

Instead of the boldest wolves, the best “dogs” would have been the more timid wolves. The “omega” members of a wolf pack, the lowest in the dominance hierarchy, are already conditioned to submit to the demands of an “alpha” individual. They are often the younger, more malleable members of the pack, as well. Therefore, these omegas would have been the easiest to domesticate. They would also have the greatest motivation to stray from the pack for food and better treatment. In addition, because they are relatively young, the most submissive wolves would have been more appealing to humans, with their greatest appeal being to the younger humans. A boy and his dog might be one of the longest running shows on earth.

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