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If Humans Domesticated Plants and Animals, then Who or What Domesticated the Humans?

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posted on May, 6 2015 @ 09:16 AM
This was a subject that was hard for me to place in a forum, so I put it here.

I saw the PBS Nova special a while back called, "Dogs That Changed the World". I thought it presented a very valid theory concerning the domestication of the wolf into man's best friend the dog. Here is a quick summary of the program in question.

What caused the domestication of wolves?

Traditionally, the experts studying the evolution of modern dogs believed that domestication was a conscious effort of humans. The theory was that ancient people took wolf pups from their dens, adopted them, fed them, trained and tamed them.

Biologist Raymond Coppinger has another idea: the wolves domesticated themselves.

“People are organized into continuous settlements — villages where they remain for a long period of time, whether there were sitting on the edge of a shell fishery or on the edge of a coral reef. When humans live in the same spot for a long period of time, they create waste, including both sewage and, more importantly for the dog, leftovers. There are things people can’t eat, seeds that fall on the ground, things that have gone bad,” Coppinger says, “The garbage, which might be found in dumps, or just scattered near houses, attracts scavengers: cockroaches, pigeons, rats, jackals — and wolves.”

Coppinger has a really good theory and the program made a good case for that. However, it begs the question, "Who or what domesticated the human beings?"

Did humans end up domesticating themselves by living in social groups and developing civilization or did something else start them on the road to domestication? Other questions that comes to mind is if people become feral, do they revert back to a "wild man" state with natural instincts and coloration? Are there even any populations of truly wild people to compare with the domesticated humans today?

I've always considered humans to be the most domesticated creature on planet Earth and it sure seems to have taken me a long time to consider the question I have put forth here. That program was aired quite a while back, but this has just surfaced in my mind lately. Notice the other scavengers that are mentioned like cockroaches, pigeons, rats and jackals, why aren't these animals considered domesticated? Then there are the domesticated plants, what could have caused that? Obviously in the case of plants, people purposely domesticated them, or did they? Seems to me that this theory, as good as it seems, leaves me with a number of questions.

I'm not advocating that some alien ETs had domesticated humans, but something got us started on the road to becoming the most domesticated animal on the planet. I'd be interested to hear what other members have to say on this subject.

ETA: Pigeons and rats have been domesticated, thought I'd better add that.
edit on 6-5-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: added extra comment

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 09:31 AM
Here is a personal observation on my part. There is a number of wild deer that frequent my yard. It started with two deer and now there are about a half dozen coming around the house. They have gotten so use to the human presence here that I can talk to them and they listen, without fear or the flight response. Even if they start to run away, they will stop and listen to me and calm down and go back to browsing. I can even go outside and play with our dog and they have no real fear response. I never feed them and have nothing to offer except that I acknowledge them and talk to them. How can that be explained with the theory offered in this program? Those deer will disappear during firearm deer hunting season, but they come back later and still have no problem with me. They are far from being domesticated, but I imagine that if I offered them some yummy food they like, they would eventually eat from my hand.
edit on 6-5-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typo

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 09:31 AM
i think it was really all trial and error, we kinda domesticated ourselves just by experiencing first hand what would happen if we don't take care of each other.
Even when you look at tribes, they still have a fundamental structure to them, showing some level of civility you can say.
The constant interaction and moving across the world in tight groups sort of forced us to be more domesticated because it increased the chances of survival.
but sure there was a period in our early history when we were stabbing ourselves left and right and sleeping in our own faeces and all that lovely stuff

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 09:40 AM
a reply to: IShotMyLastMuse

That seems to me to be the reasonable theory behind our human domestication. Still, it seems that the theory offered in that program has only part of the story of how dogs were domesticated. There seems to be some kinship between animals and human kind that goes beyond our garbage heaps.

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 10:30 AM
We have a very complicated social system, but it's dominated by the need to procreate.
If you get down the bare bones of how we act it boils down to this.

Males tend to be more dominate, they are more violent, and have a inner drive to hold position of power, females tend to be more docile, the inner need to care for protect what is close to them, children, dwelling, food etc.
The two kind of go hand in hand, it's how ape populations work. Females look for protection, males with power, and males look for suitable mates, a motherly figure that will take care of his 'stuff'.

Domestication is only a concept we made up before that it was just pure evolution and survival, and it still is. When we take in a dog or a cat, who is really the better one at surviving? The human, or the dog who lounges around all day, gets fed, and loved it's entire life, all it needs to do is not bite the hand that feeds it.

It's pure fight or flight.

I think humans didn't domesticate ourselves, we were forced to by the will of survival, a concept that a lot of people take way out of context, but it's what Darwin was trying to get across, Humans are the perfect example of survival of the fittest. We have the power to wipe out any species on this planet, but we also have the power to selectively breed something until it's over populated.

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 10:31 AM
I think alcohol played a big part. Again, food waste, especially fruits leads to fermentation, which leads to sluggishness and a tendency to stay put. Maybe that also helped with creating the circumstances for higher brain development.

We see the same thing with some chimp populations as well as a few bird species.

It's weird...I'm not even a big drinker, but I think human evolution is tied intrinsically to getting a buzz on.

posted on May, 6 2015 @ 10:59 AM
Thanks for the posts. Interesting thoughts to entertain.
edit on 6-5-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typo

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