I love dogs. They really can be your best friend and far more reliable than most creatures. So whenever I hear about research into their history / evolution my curiosity is always engaged. Recently a tweet about the oldest dog remains challenging current theories caught my eye and I just had to find out more.
So here it is in a nut shell. The remains of a dog from part of Russia has been dated at 33,000 years old (independent carbon dating by 3 different labs) and is much closer to domesticated breeds than wild wolves based on bone structure. Previous estimates had placed domestication closer to 26,000 years ago. There is lots of blurb, facts and figures, but the upshot is these remains are being used as evidence that domestication took place earlier than thought. Some researchers are using this (and other evidence) to speculate that it in fact it happened independently in different places across a rather large time frame.
How fascinating! I guess a good idea is simply a good idea, regardless of time and location. I’ve also read about research into dogs which says they have specifically evolved to interpret human facial emotions, allowing them to modify their behaviour appropriately. This is shown by dogs scanning the right side of human faces first because of our asymmetry and how we show our emotions. I’ve been on the look out for this since and my two definitely do it.
Here is Pebbles ‘begging’ in a cafe on holiday recently. Her happiness seemed to revolve around convincing people to let her have their cups of tea, strokes, the occasional bit of toast, cuddles and fuss, with the odd run through some bracken thrown in for good measure. That dog has really worked out how to wrap people round her little paw!
Speculation about domestication includes discussion on the symbiotic relationship which was beneficial to both the wolves/dogs and early humans. When I look at the photo above of Pebbles begging it would be easy to assume that the symbiosis has turned into a parasitic relationship. Neither Jake or Pebbles work, I’m the one going out to earn money to provide us with material things. They certainly don’t have to hunt for their dinner! But you know I think it’s still symbiotic. I provide the shelter, food and warmth (central heating), they provide protection, love and companionship. Whenever and for whatever reasons domestication happened, I’m really glad it did. Ok I’d better go and make pebbles another cup of tea hehe…