Monday, August 08, 2011

The role of dogs in Human evolution

This week-end following the conversations we were having about Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species, Me and my son went to visit the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Botanical Garden of Lisbon.

Lisbon Natural History Museum

On this visit we reflect on various aspects of the creation of the solar system, the emergence of life on Earth, evolution to dinosaurs (a subject that always fascinates children)

dinosaurs on Lisbon Natural History Museum

mass extinction of dinosaurs, evolution of mammals, and of course human evolution and the role of man's best friend, the dog in our evolution.

In our days it is believed that wasn't man who approached the wolf, but the wolves that followed the human groups to take advantage of the debris produced and often not consumed.


As the proximity of the two species were kept, the more likely situation is that the wolves became more docile and trusting, thus ignoring, the basic instincts. Animals that remained with the human groups, had more success in finding food, and therefore to reproduce and keep their young.

From the step to approach human beings and the first adoption that challenged the laws of the natural world, where humans and wolves competed as predators, we can only guess what happened.

wolf in a human group

With the domestication and adoption of wolves within the human group it is believed to have formed a symbiotic relationship where the Wolf received food, shelter and care from humans, and humans received protection and companionship, which evolves into a mutual aid in the hunt and later in other activities such as herding.

The man really helped in domestication by selecting the most pleasing docile animals and eliminating those with wild characteristics.
The Wolf, is thought to have contributed to man evolution by eliminating the man's need to develop physical senses, like smell to hunt. Also the use of Wolf, or probably at this point we can designate as dog , as a guard and herder, have actually contributed to the domestication of livestock, that in addition to sedentary agriculture, eliminate our physical characteristics required for hunting and fighting.

cave painting of a man with a dog

Archaeology has placed the earliest known domestication at potentially 30,000 BC in Belgium, and with certainty at 7,000 BC.
But it seems that Wolf domestication is older than the archaeological record so far found.

As the human migrated around the world, their dogs migrated with them. Changes to agricultural and urban areas have led to new selections and specializations, such as search and delivery of items, saving people, police dogs, etc. With the new selection was a new specialization of different types of dogs that best suited human needs.

immigrants with their dogs

Kennel clubs appeared in the middle of the 19th century as a way to regulate the various breeds, that already existed and were used in competitions.

one of the first dog show

Today these Kennel Clubs defines the dog breeds standard, which everyone recognizes.

Wolves, ancestors of our dogs have been since the Middle Ages, targeted has demons and systematically exterminated, witch almost led to the disappearance of these magnificent animals.

Let us pray that the future has room for a new harmony between man and wolf.

comparison of a wolf and dog paw

Other articles:

No comments: