I just read the highly recommended Animals in Translation: Using the mysteries of Autism to decode animal behavior
by Temple Grandin and
Catherine Johnson (Bloomsbury, 2005).
The most interesting argument for me concerns the relationship between humans and dogs.
We often hear about how humans changed the wolf into dogs, but it seems this was not a one-way process.
Humans not only impacted the shape and behavior of domesticated dogs, but wolves also impacted human evolution!
The authors point out that the first archeological evidence of a dog burial by humans dates back 14 000 years, but genetic research has shown that
domesticated dogs diverged from wolves 135 000 years ago (Grandin and Johnson, p. 304).
That's a very long time, and certainly significant in evolutionary terms.
So perhaps the Australian aboriginal saying, "Dogs make us human", conveys a great truth.
(Grandin and Johnson, p. 306.)
The human domestication of dogs (or the dog domestication of humans?) happened at a time when our ancestors had barely evolved from Homo Erectus.
Gradually they changed from more ape-like behavior to a culture that is also highly typical of wolves and dogs:
Going over all the evidence, a group of Australian anthropologists believes that during all those years when early humans were associating with
wolves they learned to act and think like wolves. Wolves hunted in groups; humans didn't. Wolves had complex social structures; humans didn't
... wolves were highly territorial; humans probably weren't - again, judging by how non-territorial all primates are today. ... When you think about
how different we are from other primates, you see how dog-like we are.
(Grandin and Johnson, p. 304.)
The authors illustrate this further, and more astoundingly suggest that our relationship with wolves changed the structure of our brains. In humans
the mid-brain (which handles emotions and sensory data) shrank, as did the olfactory bulbs that handle smell. To conclude on the unique relationship
between wolf and mankind:
Dog brains and human brains specialized: humans took over the planning and organizing tasks, and dogs took over the sensory tasks. Dogs and people
co-evolved and became even better partners, allies and friends.
( P. 306.)
I think it's entirely plausible, and without wolfy we'd still be living in caves, like the Neanderthals, who, as the authors mention (p. 305), never
I now wonder how the kitty cats may have influenced humans, although it seems like a somewhat different relationship. Nevertheless, for agricultural
peoples they were an organic form of pest control.
In any case, what does ATS think on the theory that dogs made us humans?
Are we "dogmen", or "wolfmen"?
edit on 30-9-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)