The domestication of dogs is one of the few universal domestication events – everywhere that you find humans, you find dogs. Human beings have inarguably benefited from the domesticated of canines. Dogs are used as: hunting aids, herding animals, guards, pest control, beasts of burden, companionship, and even food. However, it looks like it hasn’t been only humans that have benefited from the relationship. Apparently, domesticated dogs (as opposed to their wild, wolf counter-parts) use human beings as beneficial tools.
Human beings provide their canine companions with food, shelter, and even socialization. After generations of selective breeding, dogs have developed a keen eye to observe human body language – especially the practice of “pointing.” Domesticated dogs will begin to follow human pointing gestures as early as four weeks. Wolves, even those raised by humans, never develop this skill. Additionally, when presented with a need to overcome a problem to reach a goal (usually food), dogs will ‘give up’ and look to humans for aid fairly quickly.
To learn more about the research, see the article in Scientific American.
Dogs are the oldest and most universally domesticated animals on Earth. New studies of a 33,000 year old dog skull fossil have revealed new insight into the domestication of man’s best friend.
The newly discovered skull reveals that this species of dog (that went extinct during the last glacial period) was on the brink of full domestication just before they died out.
To learn more about the significance of this Russian find, see this article in National Geographic.
A well-preserved 33,000 year old skull belonging to a dog in the early stages of domestication was found in the Atal Mountains of Siberia. Dogs and humans have long enjoyed a unique relationship – with dogs theoretically being the earliest animal domesticated. Interestingly, canines are the only universally domesticated animal – wherever you find humans, you find dogs (the same can not be said of cats, horses, pigs, etc).
Courtesy of BBC
While domesticated dogs were instrumental to the survival of humans in the region, the peoples of the Altal Mountains appear to have abandoned their animals towards the end of the ice age – possibly due to a greater scarcity of food.
To read more about this finding, check out this article at BBC News.