LazyPaw Animal Hospitals is reminded every day of the many ways dogs are amazing creatures. From the teeny weenie Yorkie to massive Saint Bernards, dogs come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. It’s hard to believe that every canine from the smallest to the largest are all descended from a single species—the Canis lupus, or gray wolf.
Some DNA research suggests the transformation of the wolf into the genesis of our modern domesticated dogs started about 130,000 years ago. Before people had even begun settling down to start agricultural lives, wolves were getting used to them and starting to live alongside humans as guards, companions, and assistants.
Thought traditional schools of thought have proposed that humans domesticated dogs, recently scientists have begun to suspect it was dogs, not people, who chose to venture out of the wilderness and onto our pillows.
When humans arrived in Europe about 43,000 years ago, they took down every other carnivore in sight, including Ice Age hyenas and saber-toothed cats. We’re still not sure if humans eradicated them by taking food sources for themselves or if people actively hunted these creatures, but either way, human presence coordinates with their extinction.
When pondering the relationship between humans and wolves, some scientists considered this: Wolves eat plenty (about one deer per 10 wolves every day) and don’t take kindly to sharing. People are skilled hunters without the help of wolves, and humans have a long history of taking wolves down. So what was it that brought these two seemingly conflicting, food-competitive species together by the fire?
Humans tend to view survival stories in terms of who is leanest and meanest, but it’s possible that when it comes to domesticated dogs, those who avoided the spear were actually the cuddliest and most affable. Some believe wolves scavenging human’s garbage dumps were bold but friendly instead of aggressive, and gradually humans allowed them closer to the clan. Over time, the animals experienced changes in both physique and psychology. They began learning how to read human gestures, responding to the wants and needs of owners, and generally paying attention to us in the same way infants often do.
So, what do you think? Did humans domesticate wolves, or was it the other way around? Knowing what we do about dogs, we’re putting our money on the pups.