Three years ago there was a study that suggested that modern-day dogs came from the middle east. By using genome technology they thought that Canis lupus familiaris developed in that region. Last summer studies have confirmed that the hairy, lovable family member came from China. By looking at the sequencing of whole-genomes from grey wolves and dogs from china, they found that about 32,000 years ago humans domesticated these canines into their homes. Now through more recent studies using DNA from fossils, the molecular study found that modern house dogs were more closely related to ancient European dog-like canines. The fossil samples came from bones and teeth that actually dated back to 36,000 years ago. So now the archaeological and DNA evidence match, showing that our loyal and dependable friends did actually come from Europe it seems.
Researchers identified similar DNA sequences and put those related into groups called ‘clades’. The more related the closer the clade group will be. So in the end, scientists have grouped together four clades that resulted in three being related to fossils from Europe and the fourth being related to modern-day wolves. So it does make sense when researching on the archaeological aspects of how wolves came to live with humans. It seems that by gradual habituation, these ancient wolves enjoyed human contact over time due to any left over caches of food they left behind as hunter-gatherers, or what they call castings with scraps of food piled into compost like piles outside their temporary camps or nearby, the scraps of food depended on the location were some of our ancestors scavenged, hunted and gathered. These wolves more than likely became ‘dogs’ when they were domesticated into human lives, more so first as a tool called working dogs. Our ancestors may have looked for reasons as to why they wanted something around to use a living thing as a tool that may indicate a possible psychological theory first before companionship, or the two developed together. The domesticated canids may have helped hunt, defend camps and become great companions over time. While certain genetic abnormalities probably gradually came out when humans decided that they were looking for specific qualities in the so-called ‘dogs’ that they were domesticating by cross-breeding.
There seems to be so many questions yet with little answers to tie all the general theories together yet though. With careful research and hopefully with new findings that archaeologists discover, scientists may find that so-called final answer as to how and why the dog came to be with humans. If only Charles Darwin were here to witness these unusual debates!
Another theory, not so pleasant to think about, is that our human ancestors may have decided to domesticate dogs for a food source. And to this day the practice still occurs as a delicacy in some eastern cultures, sadly with much debate over animal cruelty problems occurring as well. But it could have been due to times of famine when you look at it with scientific probability, because it was a very rough life being a hunter and gatherer. Although, humans do have a history of scavenging from wolf kills too and that may be another way we could have come together with this ancient wolf-like creature during times of canine domestication.
by Tina Elliott