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← Wolf-to-dog transition had little to do with humans, ancient skull suggests

Wolf-to-dog transition had little to do with humans, ancient skull suggests - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Well, it must have had something to do with humans!

Though I sometimes wonder why any self respecting dog would want to hang around certain people. Wolf to dog, per se, had to be somewhat self selecting and those wolves not " wolfy " enough saw an easier, softer gig to play!

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 01:56:00 UTC | #900829

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 2 by QuestioningKat

Maybe some bitches just preferred the "guitar guy" version of wolves over the more aggressive ones. Sometimes nice guys finish first.

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 02:18:08 UTC | #900837

adiroth's Avatar Comment 3 by adiroth

But they never settle for the accountants do they?

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 10:36:45 UTC | #900904

stellier68's Avatar Comment 4 by stellier68

Anyway, everyone knows that the Theory of Evolution is bogus... There are only species which Chuck Norris allows to live.

Merry Chuckmas!

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 18:18:03 UTC | #901027

Corylus's Avatar Comment 5 by Corylus

It is possible to have a relationship with a domesticated wolf, but they are very challenging and need a huge amount of engagement and time.

A marvellous book on a human/wolf relationship: The Philosopher and the Wolf by Mark Rowlands. I really recommend this one to wolf fans.

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 19:01:43 UTC | #901048

dandelion fluff's Avatar Comment 6 by dandelion fluff

Comment 3 by adiroth

But they never settle for the accountants do they?

So that's why all accountants are single!

I keep looking at the picture up there like I'm playing "spot the differences" between the two.

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 23:45:20 UTC | #901168

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 7 by QuestioningKat

Comment 3 by adiroth :

But they never settle for the accountants do they?

No, they don't. But don't feel bad, it's not just a female issue, everyone dislikes bean counters. Hollywood usually scripts accountants getting killed off right after the lawyer or he's got a case of chronic sinus problems. Accountants with a side gig as a musician have much better chances. Try rephrasing your profession to "financial specialist" or something.

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 00:35:00 UTC | #901191

mtgilbert's Avatar Comment 8 by mtgilbert

Don't forget the silver fox experiment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox

Tue, 20 Dec 2011 03:48:05 UTC | #901252

Degsy's Avatar Comment 9 by Degsy

I often wonder about this 'transition'. I hate to say this but can we trust our ancestors to be, on the one hand, proficient hunters of other game, to then turn domesticators of sorts when another species started hanging about their encampments looking for the odd bone. If we assume meat to be a precious resource, what was stopping our forebears from taking advantage of an animal (as a source of food) that came to them, as opposed to them having to go look elsewhere?

Anyway, I must finish The Crossing by tomorrow as it is due back at the library.

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 17:25:53 UTC | #901741

billzfantazy's Avatar Comment 10 by billzfantazy

The domestic dog is an example of "ther survival of the cutest" ( yes comment no 8, that's relevant) we probably did eat the odd wolf that we managed to catch, but the ones who came closest to our camp fires to eat our scraps evolved to be cute. The ones we didn't like, we killed; the cute ones we kept as pets. Voila!

Wed, 21 Dec 2011 23:36:32 UTC | #901822

Roedy's Avatar Comment 11 by Roedy

For me conclusion that humans did not artificially select dogs does not follow. Discovering an intermediate skull tells you nothing about the evolutionary pressures that created it.It sounds like the interesting part of this research was left out of the article.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 04:19:55 UTC | #901849

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 12 by Steve Zara

There is such a close relationship between humans and dogs that I do wonder how great a role this has played in our evolution and survival. The presence of a powerful animal that is protective of humans it knows would surely be a great advantage to humans, and the dogs would have gained from the protective environment of human groups.

Humans have a distinctive characteristic that seems rarely mentioned in discussions of our biological history - we tend to develop symbiotic relationships with other species. It's not just humans that now populate the world in vast numbers, it's humans along with dogs, cats, cattle, goats, sheep, chickens.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 05:30:14 UTC | #901857

ForVirg's Avatar Comment 13 by ForVirg

This brings to mind something I once read that got me to pondering a lot. I wish I could remember the source, but at the time I can't lay my hands on it.

The idea is that domesticated species had a hand in their own domestication, seeking the protection that humans could offer in return for offering something of value to humans. Hmm. I love this stuff!

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 06:55:28 UTC | #901864

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 14 by ZenDruid

I read an article recently which discussed the fact that given the choice, small critters would prefer their food cooked rather than raw. I think this supports the idea that the wolves were attracted to the [mesolithic - ?] cooking fires to begin with. Being a dog person myself, I can easily imagine the scenario...

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 07:46:22 UTC | #901872

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 15 by DavidMcC

Comment 13 by ForVirg :

This brings to mind something I once read that got me to pondering a lot. I wish I could remember the source, but at the time I can't lay my hands on it.The idea is that domesticated species had a hand in their own domestication, seeking the protection that humans could offer in return for offering something of value to humans. Hmm. I love this stuff!

That's feasible if it was orphaned wolf cubs that domesticated themselves - I can't see an adult wolf seeking protection by humans, somehow! :-)

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 13:11:00 UTC | #901918

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 16 by DavidMcC

Comment 8 by mtgilbert

On the other hand, not all dogs are floppy eared, etc. What about Alsations? I'm with most of the others, because earlier humans probably didn't need to take domestication to extremes, because there would be variation within the wolf population in their attitude to humans and their situation w/r to food supply. Whether the OP's 33KYr date simply shows that partial domestication through the human-wolf interaction was simply earlier than previously thought, I don't know. Maybe the skull WAS an exaample of multiple incidence of partial domestication, with full domestication of a wolf not occurring till much more recently.

EDIT: I certainly think that the OP authors' conclusion is not a logical one.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 13:23:02 UTC | #901924

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 17 by DavidMcC

I've just seen a very interesting program on Nat. Geo. Wild, by a naturalist called Casey Anderson, who seems to specialise in the large mammals of North America. Much of the program was about his "honourary membership" of a wolf pack currently living wild in the Yellowstone National Park. The reason he can join in with them is that he raised two of the pack members from cubs, but did not tame them so much that they couldn't later join the pack that the Park management had created. These two acted as his passport into the pack, forcing the alpha male to relent when he initially objected to Casey.

Thus, the wolves learn who is their friend, and who is an enemy - no genetic evolution or floppy ears is required. Of course, it did require significant physical risks on Casey's part, and he has the scars to show his earlier mistakes, as he learned the hard way how wolves use body language!

A couple of interesting additional points:

  1. He said early on in the program, that he "had a front seat at 'The Greatest Show on Earth' " when he was working with the animals.

  2. (More relevant to this thread) he said that a significant difference between wolves and wolf-like dogs was that the latter had a reduced bite strength.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 16:09:52 UTC | #901953

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 18 by Helga Vieirch

Comment 13 by ForVirg :

This brings to mind something I once read that got me to pondering a lot. I wish I could remember the source, but at the time I can't lay my hands on it.The idea is that domesticated species had a hand in their own domestication, seeking the protection that humans could offer in return for offering something of value to humans. Hmm. I love this stuff!

That's feasible if it was orphaned wolf cubs that domesticated themselves - I can't see an adult wolf seeking protection by humans, somehow! :-)

This theory, (in some places called "anthro-econoly") is that humans created an micro-ecoology around themselves due to the way they used fire to manipulate landscapes. Also, the way they were frequently compassionate enough to raise orphaned cubs and other young animals, and the way they tended to protect local herds of game from other predators so that these were able to keep more calves/fawns, kids alive during the vulnerable period. This made large game animals less fearful of humans, and kept them in "the neighbourhood" since humans would actually deter lions and bears from preying on the young, so it was a trade-ff that benefitted everyone, especially since it was the crippled, old, or sick animals that the humans tended to put down when they needed meat. Even animals like mice and rats and pigs, ravens, and pigeons and wild cats found a role for themselves within the anthro-ecology; and this only intensified when sedentism and and plant domestication began in some areas. I will see if I can track down some of the sources for these ideas for you.

Thu, 22 Dec 2011 19:52:59 UTC | #902010

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 19 by Helga Vieirch

One book that discusses this is The Animal Connection, by Pat Shipman. Here is a small quote from the review:

...Pat Shipman, a Penn State paleoanthropologist, presents the groundbreaking new idea that humans' connection to other animal species may be the driving force behind the last 2.6 million years of human evolution.

Here is a quote from another review:

Shipman concludes that detailed information about animals became so advantageous that our ancestors began to nurture wild animals -- a practice that led to the domestication of the dog about 32,000 years ago. She argues that, if ensuring a steady supply of meat was the point of domesticating animals, as traditionally has been assumed, then dogs would be a very poor choice as an early domesticated species. "Why would you take a ferocious animal like a wolf, bring it into your family and home, and think this was advantageous?" Shipman asks. "Wolves eat so much meat themselves that raising them for food would be a losing proposition."

Domestic animals, like … water buffalo in Viet Nam, live intimately with humans and provide renewable resources to humans that communicate well with them…. Shipman suggests, instead, that the primary impetus for domestication was to transform animals we had been observing intently for millennia into living tools during their peak years, then only later using their meat as food. "As living tools, different domestic animals offer immense renewable resources for tasks such as tracking game, destroying rodents, protecting kin and goods, providing wool for warmth, moving humans and goods over long distances, and providing milk to human infants" she said.

Shipman looks mainly at the utility of animals and plants who became part fo the "Athro-Ecology" from the point of view of the advantages of this for humans and the impact of this relationship on human evolution. I would argue that it went both ways. Humans were not the only beneficiaries, nor were they the only ones whose evolution was influenced. The process of natural selection went on within this whole new ecological niche for thousands and thousands of years before humans consciously began to take a hand in in trying to "domesticate" any of these species.

Sun, 25 Dec 2011 14:45:39 UTC | #902625

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 20 by Helga Vieirch

By the way, I don't know how this happened, since I recall actually correcting this while I was writing, but the following sentence from my comment 18 "This theory, (in some places called "anthro-econoly") is that humans created an micro-ecoology around themselves due to the way they used fire to manipulate landscapes. SHOULD read: This theory, (in some places called "anthro-ecology") is that humans created an micro-ecology around themselves due to the way they used fire to manipulate landscapes.

Sorry about that error in the original.

Sun, 25 Dec 2011 14:50:02 UTC | #902626

DavidMcC's Avatar Comment 21 by DavidMcC

You had me trying to look up "econoly" for a while, Helga! :)

Mon, 26 Dec 2011 15:11:35 UTC | #902774

Sample's Avatar Comment 22 by Sample

Robinson said one day a brown bear confronted he and his dog and Romeo rushed to sit by their side, growling until the bear was scared away.

Memorial Service held for Juneau's Romeo, the wolf

Locally many of us Juneauites had the distinct pleasure to become "acquainted" with an unusually inquisitive, wild wolf over a period of about six to eight years each winter.

Dubbed "Romeo," it's easy to wonder if the wolf packs coexisting with our ancestors had their own Romeo's from time to time.

I'm purposely skipping over the complexity of the real story that is not delved into in the article. And I don't mean to support any of the "new agey spirituality" that is sometimes referenced regarding this animal.

I'm simply posting it here for fun and for fellow dog/wolf admirers considering the subject of this OP.

Enjoy.

Mike

(alaskansee, I'm sure you heard about this, though I think you are in Southcentral, no?)

PS: On a more somber note, the first officially recorded death of a human in Alaska by wolf predation occurred just last year.

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 05:09:27 UTC | #910410