Tuesday, May 26, 2009

History and Evolution of Dogs

I found some interesting facts about the early history of dogs and their domestication which I thought I would share.

Biologists have debated over the history and evolution of the domestic dog for hundreds of years. Most Scientists now agree that dogs are directly descended from Canis Lupus - the Grey Wolf. Dr. Robert K. Wayne, canid biologist and molecular geneticist at UCLA, has shown, through DNA research, that dogs are more closely related to the Grey Wolf than Biologists had previously suspected. In fact, due in large part to Dr. Robert K. Wayne's genetic research, the authors of the "Mammal Species of the World" the internationally accepted reference source on mammal species, reclassified the dog in 1993 from Canis Familiaris to Canis Lupus.

We will never know exactly why or how wolves were tamed by man, but remains of dogs dating back 10 to 15 thousand years have been found, so we at least have a "ball-park" figure of when which helps to build a picture of the history and evolution of dogs. The wolf and man had several important things in common, we were both hunters and also hunted in packs. The most likely scenario is that a human hunting party came across a very young Wolf Cub and decided to take it with them. The Wolf Cub would have been very puppy like and would not have been quite as dangerous as a wild Wolf. A semi-tamed Wolf would probably have had considerable value to a hunter gatherer group, lending its superior hunting senses to the group. This would have helped not just in hunting but defensively as a warning system as well. The evolution of the wolf to the domestic dog began.

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