Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Origin of Dogs

Where did dogs originate from?

There are many thoughts and theories but in reality, we do not have a truly accurate timeframe or location regarding the exact origins of the dog or its domestication history. We do know that its closest ancestor is the wolf, that forms part of the group of animals called Canidae, these include wolves, jackals, coyotes, dingoes, and foxes. It is now widely accepted that the modern dog has wolf like traits and is almost certainly derived from wolf stock. Today’s domesticated dog is probably a mutated form of the Middle Eastern or East Asian wolf, possibly the latter because there is greater genetic diversity, often a sign of greater antiquity in Asian dogs than in European dogs.
Archaeological evidence points to a time-period some 12000 to 15000 years ago when we started creating permanent settlements. This was towards the end of the Mesolithic period and the start of the Neolithic. Some of the earliest of these settlements are to be found in the fertile area now known as Northern Israel. In These Natufian villages is where modern dog may have originally surfaced.
Archaeologists have discovered remains of a burial site at a Natufian village called Ain Mallaha, in which an old man and a young pup are buried together, the mans left hand is cradling the dog. The puppy three to four months old was probably killed to give the man company and companionship on his journey to the afterlife. What is so important about this find is that it is the earliest chronological evidence pointing to domestication. And suggests that humans had starting accepting dogs not just as vermin, but as companions and trusted pets.
Many are of the opinion that they effectively domesticated themselves. They took advantage of an ecological niche and mutated from their wolf cousins to fill that niche. The trigger was our move from early stone age nomadic hunter/gatherer  before we started inhabiting permanent settlements and becoming hunter/farmers, it may have been that change that stimulated the rapid mutation into domestication.
In essence, you cannot domesticate a wolf, you can to some extent tame it to such a degree that it will accept human contact, but you will never domesticate it. To tame a wolf you need to hand rear it. You would need to start this before the cub was 8 days old, prior to the eyes opening, remember he was born deaf and blind and it takes some time for these senses to develop.
In a wolf pack, there is a basic need for some members to locate the prey, some to drive the prey, others to circle and harass, and still others to lie in wait and ambush. Others stay behind and guard the young, It’s only when you have this combination of emotional types that the pack (and the hunt) succeeds. Our modern working dogs are the result of genetic engineering by our forbears, they bred for certain traits, enhancing those traits by breeding like with like.
No one will argue that the HPRs, Retrievers, Spaniels, Collies, Hounds, and Long Dogs have sometimes quite different skills, Take the Bloodhound, that is the tracking orient part of the equation, The Collie is the cutting out the prey from the herd. The Springer the orient chase grab, but not consume.

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