How Dogs Changed Human Evolution
Barbara J. Andrews, Publisher, TheDogPlace / 2001
Surely you must wonder why there’s such affinity between dogs and man.. Fragmented bits of information
pique my interest and with research and an open mind, a new concept is conceived, and for me, validated.
We love cats and
horses and some of us have birds, bunnies, or reptiles. But as I have often written, every domestic species would happily return to the wild - with but one
Dogs are different. Unlike any other animal on earth,
they came to us! I know, you’ve been told it was because we had scraps of meat
around the entrance to our cave. No way. Here’s the hole in that story - we
didn’t even eat meat then!!! So much for the campfire myth. We didn't have fire
We're also told that prehistoric man decided the wolf
would make a good hunting partner and so he domesticated it over 30,000 years
ago. The premise being that the wolf that showed early man the value of meat.
Obviously the two theories conflict.
Jawbones Define Meat Eaters
Here’s the deal.
Neanderthal and Cro-Magnan man were both Homo Sapiens and they co-existed for a
while but a recent study of their jaw bones reveals that only one began to eat meat.
At the risk of offending my horse-owning friends, I’ll point out the obvious.
Plant eaters are not as smart as meat eaters.
Let me say that another way. Herbivores only have to
graze. Carnivores have to be smarter to catch food that can think, fight back, or run away. Every predator, from that saber tooth to
today's domestic mouser has to stalk and outwit its prey. That takes cognitive skills the
herbivore just doesn’t have. So when pre-man stumbled over a
carcass and found it good eating, he had to become smarter to get the fresh stuff.
Nature always has an answer. Meat is higher in protein. It stimulates cellular
development, i.e. his brain grew as his “canine” teeth evolved.
Our meat-eating ancestor became dominant and his
vegan cousin became extinct. That's genetics for you. The meat eater survived and became – us.
Indeed, it would seem that nature had a Grand Plan for mankind, one that will amaze you.
Mitochondrial Canine DNA
Mitochondrial DNA, discovered in the 1960s through
electron microscopy, indicates wolves and dogs split into separate species over 100,000 years ago, about the same time
Neanderthal man’s brain grew and he moved out of Africa. It took a few centuries
but Homo sapiens evolved from a plant eating gatherer into a very effective
hunter when partnered with Canis lupus familiaris. Coincidentally (?),
the period spawned cultural growth often referred to as the “Upper Paleolithic
Studies suggest that today’s dogs
descended from three females in Asia about 15,000 years ago. Scholars disagree on whether Canis familiaris come to us or we went out and stole its pups for our children.
The debate will never be settled but one thing we do know: about 13000 BC, the dog became the first
That was long before we domesticated the next oldest
companion species. By 8500 BC, we had developed rudimentary agriculture and therefore, humans became
more stationery. That generated garbage which brought rodents. Cats came and
controlled the rats. For that valuable service, we idolized them but I’m convinced
that we are their servants, not their friends (smile). Man later began to tame cattle, goats, and pigs
because it was easier to keep and control what we ate than to hunt for it.
Getting smarter every day, we finally caught a horse! It is believed the horse was first ridden in what is
now Kazahkstan (central Asia) about 3600 BC, predating domestication of the ass and the camel. Fast-forward…
Human and Canine Evolution
The earliest Americans had dogs. Their ancestors
migrated across the land bridge from Asia some 12,000 years ago and came south as evidenced by the Kentucky and Clovis NM digs
presented during the 1999 science convention. North America may have also been populated by the Ainu
from Japan and early people coming north from South America.
We’ll let the anthropologists argue the
first "melting pot" details but the first "civilized" humans were nomadic big-game hunters who lived in small
bands, subsisting on animals such as musk ox and bison. They didn’t have horses
but we know they had dogs to find, chase, and help kill those food sources!
While it may fairly be said that horses mobilized civilization, we know that the dog
sustained man's evolution and actually civilized mankind in the process.
The Genetic Connection Between Man and Dog
I’ve shown you that human
development is connected to dogs more so than any other living creature. In fact, they have become more than hunter-buddies; dogs are man’s alter-egos,
models of honesty and character.
So why haven't scientists and geneticists taken a closer look at the dog and why it came to us? Can
dogs help us evolve even more? What’s a hundred thousand years? In the span of evolution, it’s only
the blink of an eye. Man has evolved technologically but morally, I’m not so
sure. Humans would a better species if we paid more attention to our Best Friend, the dog.
Dog language has no curse words. Dogs are always
happy. The only thing that dampens a dog’s joy in life is loss of a pack member.
Every day is a good day for a dog. If he eats today, that’s good but it is not
as important as being with you. Starve him, abuse him but he will not forsake you. Sure, we’ve all heard that before but who dares to compare it to man’s level of
loyalty? Before you defend humans, look how we treat our own children!
As for our moral advancement, regrettably, I also have to say this; look what we’ve
done to our best friend, the dog! We experiment on them (yes, we still do that) abandon and abuse
them and genetically manipulate them in ways that nature never intended. We disrupt their pack order, beat down their natural instincts and rip
out their reproductive organs because "it's the right thing to do"!
Wolf packs, even feral dog packs rarely fight each
other. They know that’s counterproductive; dangerous to their survival as a
species. Once dominance is established, usually without a fight because dogs are
so intuitive, there is harmony. And the harmony lasts because generally speaking, dogs are not mean, vindictive, sneaky, double-crossers like some other
species... If you read this far, you are an intelligent, inquiring dog person who is beginning to nod in agreement.
As my father once said to me, it’s amazing what we
don’t know we knew until we think about it. You are a thinking being so when you extrapolate what you've just learned, it is worth a lot of "thought."
It may be that dogs are really here so that the scholars can figure
out what we’re supposed to be when we’ve finish evolving. Maybe it is only a dog.