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Did Dogs And Humans Co-evolve?  
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20241 posts, RR: 59
Posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2805 times:

I was watching a video by a veterinarian/behavioral neurobiologist named Karen Overall. Info about her here: http://abrionline.org/expert.php?id=21

Her theory is that humans co-evolved with and because of dogs. Her argument is that, although dogs can back-breed with wolves, dogs have been separate from wolves since around the same time that modern humans emerged. And, to make things even more interesting, dogs have been shown to be able to utilize cognitive functions that only humans can utilize of all other known animals. For example, dogs have the ability to communicate about hidden items. We do this all the time when we ask "where is...?" Dogs can point at things and understand what it means when you point at something... or glance at it. Chimps can't do that.

According to Dr. Overall, the first use of dogs was probably warmth. In fact, the Australian Aboriginals have a phrase about it being a "three dog night," which is also the name of an Ozzie rock band. This refers to a night cold that you have to sleep with three dogs to keep warm. As humans began to develop modern behaviors, one of those was the domestication of animals. We know that cows have had a direct impact on our evolution: we are one of the few mammals that retains expression of our intestinal lactase gene into adulthood. But I believe that our long history with dogs has similarly affected our evolution. I believe that we are programmed by evolution to love dogs and to look at them as we do our own young. Not all humans love dogs and not all humans love kids, but most do. This is adaptive; a human who got along well with dogs would have these little helpers for hunting, burden, guarding/defense, and warmth at night, conferring a clear evolutionary advantage over his contemporaries who were fearful or indifferent towards dogs.

What do you think? Do you think dogs have shaped us in a similar way that we've shaped them?

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinePacNWjet From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 980 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2793 times:

The book that explains this is The Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication by Stephen Budiansky:

http://www.amazon.com/Covenant-Wild-...UTF8&s=books&qid=1263239371&sr=1-1


User currently offlineStealthZ From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5724 posts, RR: 44
Reply 2, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2743 times:
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Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
which is also the name of an Ozzie rock band.

Although the name originates in Australian indigenous culture "Three Dog Night" are an American rock band, an amazingly enduring one at that.

Cheers



If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20241 posts, RR: 59
Reply 3, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2733 times:



Quoting StealthZ (Reply 2):

Although the name originates in Australian indigenous culture "Three Dog Night" are an American rock band, an amazingly enduring one at that.

I stand corrected. Thanks!

And, BTW, average dog body temperature is 101.5°F/38.6°C, give or take. This is one reason why they are such fantastic bed warmers. Unfortunately, my little dog has very long legs and he feels it very important that they be stretched all the way out...


User currently offlineAero95 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2009, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2729 times:

Great topic, Doc.

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
a human who got along well with dogs would have these little helpers for hunting, burden, guarding/defense, and warmth at night, conferring a clear evolutionary advantage over his contemporaries who were fearful or indifferent towards dogs.

In addition, I personally think that raising and caring for dogs gives future parents extremely valuable experience in raising a family. In my mind this is the clearest evolutionary advantage.

Dogs also keep a healthy level of dirt and bacteria available for our bodies (especially children's bodies) to help develop a good immune system.

There is so much more to the evolution of life than the boring old 'standard' evolution theory: Animals evolve by slow steps, best at surviving able to reproduce, blah blah blah...

That's not even the beginning of it. When you really study it, really try to understand the whole 'theory' (I hate using that word - it somehow cheapens the science) you see that organisms aren't evolving in isolation. Every organism is modifying every other organism, forever, ad infinitum.

All of life is evolving in a series of infinitely complex symbiotic relationships. Our bodies are an enormous collection of these relationships. Gut bacteria is an obvious example. Who wears the pants in that relationship? We are part of many symbiosies, as there are many contained within every one of our bodies.

The human adult's ability to digest lactose is a brilliant example of our bodies adapting to domestication of cattle.

To then think about the actual subject here, that we co-evolved side-by-side with dogs seems like a conculsion that's too easy to make, it is so obviously true.

Another example: We have domesticated yeast, modifying it to create tasty and useful alcohol, and in so doing it has modified us to metabolise it. Populations with a long history of coexistence with it are able to deal with it in better ways.

Really truly understanding this also has a sometimes unpleasant revealation of some: That the more we fxxk up our world, the more we fxxk up ourselves.

Forget about this "We were given dominion over the birds and the beasts" twaddle. Notice also that microorganisms are conveniently left out of this arrangement.


User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2708 times:

Indeed, a great topic. One thing I've always wondered, which may be obvious to some, is why dogs are so much more different among their species than humans. From what I assume, dogs all originated from a common ancestor, correct? So then why is it that we have big dogs, small dogs, spotted dogs, black dogs, fluffy dogs, bare dogs, etc.?

As for humans, we evolved little before we began to intermingle and interbreed among ethnicities and "races", thanks to inventions such as the airplane and the ship. And of course now we have various complexities of "mutts" amongst interbred ethnicities. The reason for the difference in "race" between humans is what I believe to be due to geography. For example: blacks are black because humans originated in Africa and have had enough time for melanin levels to adjust to the harsh african sun; and East Asians have "squinty eyes" because they developed epicanthal folds that protected them from the blowing sand around the deserts of Mongolia.

Now, as for dogs, I am clueless as to how there are so many different breeds, or races. Did they all evolve from the same ancestor, and due to their environment evolved differently from one another? I'm not too sharp on dog breeds, but let's say hairy dogs came from more extreme latitudes, and black, bare dogs evolved in equatorial latitudes?

Sorry to stray off topic, but wondering if anyone might be able to clear this up for me.



The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2684 times:



Quoting Evan767 (Reply 5):

Now, as for dogs, I am clueless as to how there are so many different breeds, or races.

Nowadays mainly because people tend to love dogs that look different from the common mutt, and therefore will breed them. Historically, people did have specific uses for different breeds (one robust breed for heavy guarding, another small agile one for hunting rats and so forth).

Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
I believe that we are programmed by evolution to love dogs and to look at them as we do our own young.

You can insert kittens/piglets/kid chimps/your favourite young mammal, and the truth value is hardly changed at all. What we see there is our universal mammal instinct towards other young mammals. As we know, many problems people have with their older dogs stem from the fact that they fail to see that their puppies are no more their babies, but adult wolves in search for a pack with a strong leader.

It's tempting to elevate what is a cultural feature into an established biological fact. We all have a built-in icecream craving gene don't we? I must be so, because whenever a young human hears an icecream van calling he or she will start likely running towards it!


User currently offlinePlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 11687 posts, RR: 60
Reply 7, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2674 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 3):
And, BTW, average dog body temperature is 101.5°F/38.6°C, give or take. This is one reason why they are such fantastic bed warmers. Unfortunately, my little dog has very long legs and he feels it very important that they be stretched all the way out...

One night we had no heating, so all the (9) dogs came to bed on top of the duvet. It was cosy, but difficult to move them so I could get in or out.

I'll pass this on the the girlfriend, she studied animal behaiviour at Uni and is very interested in it. I am as well, but I don't have her level of understanding, so it's lost on me.


Dan  Smile



...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
User currently offlineAirstud From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2732 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 2655 times:

But if the band were from Australia, wouldn't it be more correct to call them an "Aussie" rock band, rather than an "Ozzie" one?

I don't know from expression of intestinal lactase genes; though I have heard that humans (or was it all mammals?) quit producing lactase before we're five years old. Which, is why the holistic, health-foody, hippie, crunchy, macrobiotic-y folx tell everyone not to consume dairy products.

Y'know, there's a whole variety of dog foods and treats out there; plus table scraps of course, but do dogs get a variety of beverages as well? I've never heard of a dog drinking anything other than water. No milk, no Pepsi, no eggnog....mmmm pancakes I mean eggnog.



Pancakes are delicious.
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20241 posts, RR: 59
Reply 9, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 2655 times:



Quoting Evan767 (Reply 5):
Indeed, a great topic. One thing I've always wondered, which may be obvious to some, is why dogs are so much more different among their species than humans. From what I assume, dogs all originated from a common ancestor, correct? So then why is it that we have big dogs, small dogs, spotted dogs, black dogs, fluffy dogs, bare dogs, etc.?

Because their generation time is about 10% of the human generation time. A dog is sexually mature at 18-24 months of age. Humans are sexually mature at 12-15 years of age. So the faster you can crank out new generations, the faster you evolve.

Of all forms of life on earth, humans, being among the longest-lived and longest to sexual maturity, are actually the *least* evolved. Bacteria, which reproduce as often as ever 20 minutes, evolve far faster than we do. So if you can breed that puppy you have by next year, you can make a new breed of dog a lot faster than you can make a new breed of human.

Quoting Evan767 (Reply 5):

As for humans, we evolved little before we began to intermingle and interbreed among ethnicities and "races", thanks to inventions such as the airplane and the ship.

We evolved a lot more before than we do now. Part of this is medicine at work. Consider the fact that the vast majority of pregnancies result in a live birth and live mother and that the vast majority of babies live to adulthood these days. This didn't used to be the case. If a woman's pelvis wasn't the right shape, she'd die in childbirth and the baby would often go down with her. That was evolution at work selecting against a woman with an inadequate birth canal. Today, she gets a C-section so there is no more evolutionary pressure to that regard.

Evolution is a bitch. One reason we're going to need gene therapy sooner rather than later is because we are totally screwing up our own evolution. Smart people these days reproduce *less* than dumb people because smart people know how to use contraception and plan their families. Natural selection in the classical sense has ended for the human race.

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 6):

You can insert kittens/piglets/kid chimps/your favourite young mammal, and the truth value is hardly changed at all.

Not so much. Humans love baby mammals, and most mammals love other baby mammals. But humans also love *adult* dogs. We see an *adult* dog and go "Awww, da puppy puppy!" and grown men break down into simpering puddles of pathetic baby talk.


Quoting AverageUser (Reply 6):

It's tempting to elevate what is a cultural feature into an established biological fact. We all have a built-in icecream craving gene don't we? I must be so, because whenever a young human hears an icecream van calling he or she will start likely running towards it!

Only kids who grew up with ice cream vans. But there are many dog lovers who never had dogs as kids.


User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2574 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):

Evolution is a bitch. One reason we're going to need gene therapy sooner rather than later is because we are totally screwing up our own evolution. Smart people these days reproduce *less* than dumb people because smart people know how to use contraception and plan their families.

I can see eugenics is one of you favourite subjects. Fundamentally, evolution can never "screw up". It is always present in procreation and always right. Have you actually performed an IQ test on the people you call dumb?

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 9):
But humans also love *adult* dogs. We see an *adult* dog and go "Awww, da puppy puppy!" and grown men break down into simpering puddles of pathetic baby talk.

I'm a grown man, and I don't behave that way. I like animals a lot (we have two cats) and I think they like me as well, but I don't *love* them like I do my own human children. I don't think the dog is a special case of animal love, many people love cats, some say they even love snakes. It all depends on the semantics of "love".

[Edited 2010-01-13 05:08:22]

User currently offlineIADCA From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 1346 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2563 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
We do this all the time when we ask "where is...?" Dogs can point at things and understand what it means when you point at something... or glance at it. Chimps can't do that.

There was a very interesting program on the BBC (I think) last week touching on this very subject. It didn't get to co-evolution, but it did hit on an interesting breeding program in Novosibirsk that has essentially managed to domesticate silver foxes in about 50 years via single-trait selection for non-aggressiveness. If taken too far, it's a eugenicist's dream, but you might find it interesting.

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 10):
I can see eugenics is one of you favourite subjects. Fundamentally, evolution can never "screw up". It is always present in and always right. Have you actually performed an IQ test on the people you call dumb?

Evolution can screw up quite royally when it's not "natural" selection. In that sense, the vast majority of human evolution has potential to screw up, even when it doesn't get all the way to full-blown state-sponsored eugenics. Virtually all social selection based on factors outside of pure breeding potential and health falls into that category. Eugenics is just the endpoint of the phenomenon. No reasonable person would support eugenics because of its horrible social effects, but that doesn't mean one has to agree that the socially-prescribed influences on reproduction rate are good for the human species overall. Remember, Doc is...a doctor...health is his focus.


User currently offlineOly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6840 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2558 times:



Quoting IADCA (Reply 11):
There was a very interesting program on the BBC (I think) last week touching on this very subject.

"Horizon" and it's in 6 parts on youtube starting with....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBCp74FNQYA&feature=related



wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2558 times:

Quoting IADCA (Reply 11):
Remember, Doc is...a doctor...health is his focus.

That was (and unfortunately is) the keyword of the eugenics movement. It's "only health" that is considered. In fact it's a marvellous example of the pool of Dawkins' "selfish genes" that try to spread themselves (in the absense of other means) by using social tactics to limit the reproduction of other genes. Nothing to do with any known health issue.

Quoting IADCA (Reply 11):
Evolution can screw up quite royally when it's not "natural" selection.

We've ceased being "natural" the moment we took up agriculture.

[Edited 2010-01-13 05:21:08]

User currently offlineIADCA From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 1346 posts, RR: 8
Reply 14, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2547 times:



Quoting Oly720man (Reply 12):
"Horizon" and it's in 6 parts on youtube starting with....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBCp7...lated

Well done. Thanks.

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 13):
That was (and unfortunately is) the keyword of the eugenics movement. It's "only health" that is considered. In fact it's a marvelleous example of the pool of Dawkins' "selfish genes" that try to spread themselves (in the absense of other means) by using social tactics to limit the reproduction of other genes. Nothing to do with any known health issue.

The rub, of course, is that "health" is itself a socially-constructed term. I was particularly referring to eugenics in its political incarnation. As a pure science, eugenics is essentially just human genetics. The issue (as I'm sure we agree) is that "natural" factors that were conducive to human survival in the pre-agricultural era are no longer the sole (or best) predictors of success in human reproduction and societal success. Whether that's a good or bad thing is really not an issue. At present, it's merely an interesting debate...I mean, I hardly see eugenics as an actual societal threat. Hitler pretty much killed that one.

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 13):
We've ceased being "natural" the moment we took up agriculture.

Absolutely.


User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 2541 times:



Quoting IADCA (Reply 14):
As a pure science, eugenics is essentially just human genetics.

I don't think it was ever a pure science, just politics. It was never spelled out what exactly were the features they were trying to outbreed. I consider it a sort of class war in the Marxist sense: the ones promoting tend to be coming from the upper echelons of society and v.v.

Quoting IADCA (Reply 14):

The rub, of course, is that "health" is itself a socially-constructed term.

That's correct, but so will be any term referring to an abstraction. We will never catch them alive so to speak.


Quoting IADCA (Reply 14):
I mean, I hardly see eugenics as an actual societal threat. Hitler pretty much killed that one.

Amazingly, it seems to linger in parts of the U.S. East Coast.


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20241 posts, RR: 59
Reply 16, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2472 times:



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 10):

I can see eugenics is one of you favourite subjects.

Nope. Evolution is.


User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2456 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):

Nope. Evolution is.

Well, then getting back from eugenics, I don't think the dog has any special evolutionary place in the human development that could be verified genetically. Our mutual features are aligned so that a companionship is benefitial, but that is fundamentally a happenstance.

An example: why do cats and rabbits get on well together as house pets? For the cat, the one that does the grooming and licking is the boss, for the rabbit, it's the reverse: the one that is being groomed and licked is the boss! A lucky happenstance.


User currently offlineRampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3152 posts, RR: 6
Reply 18, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2400 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Thread starter):
What do you think? Do you think dogs have shaped us in a similar way that we've shaped them?

Yes. Back when I was playing archaeologist 20 years ago, it was a going theory. At the very least, the species learned and benefited from each other for tens if not 100s of millennia.

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 15):

Amazingly, it seems to linger in parts of the U.S. East Coast.

What I first interpreted as merely a hot button for you has now crossed a line and become inflamatory. Back off, and desist with the out of place superiority.

-Rampart


User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2381 times:

Quoting Rampart (Reply 18):

What I first interpreted as merely a hot button for you has now crossed a line and become inflamatory. Back off, and desist with the out of place superiority.

I don't know how you're taking it, but I'm not accepting any eugenics, not even when it's wrapped in nice puppy paper. I'm sorry, but my personal line goes there. If you want to, I can go to the library and scan & translate some 1930s articles for you that contain precisely what I see a person claim here. I even know personally some people who've written academically on the subject, the subject of eugenics interests social historians who study the history of marginal groups in general. We've been there before, and there's no need to relive the period. Period.

[Edited 2010-01-15 07:05:57]

User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20241 posts, RR: 59
Reply 20, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 2359 times:



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 19):

I don't know how you're taking it, but I'm not accepting any eugenics,

And you don't have to, because... shocker of all: nobody's suggested eugenics. Least of all me.


User currently offlineIADCA From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 1346 posts, RR: 8
Reply 21, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 2350 times:



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 19):
If you want to, I can go to the library and scan & translate some 1930s articles for you that contain precisely what I see a person claim here. I even know personally some people who've written academically on the subject, the subject of eugenics interests social historians who study the history of marginal groups in general. We've been there before, and there's no need to relive the period. Period.

Believe it or not, many of us are aware of this. Many American lawyers had to read Buck v. Bell in law school, and we're not big fans of it either. It's one of the worst black marks on our judicial history. As a graduate of the University of Virginia, I'm also aware of that insitution's involvement in eugenics (see Ivey Lewis's papers). But to smear modern-day Americans with the stench of racist 1930s social policies (remember, this was hardly the apogee of social virtue in the US anyway) is completely unacceptable. Merely pointing out that some characteristics are genetically linked and that peoples' choices of mates are not always optimal in terms of genetically-inherited characteristics related to longevity is rather far from advocating their sterilization or murder. Nobody was advocating social policy along traditional eugenic lines like intelligence, criminality, sexual orientation, or race. That's the horror of eugenics. Refusing to talk about gene therapy because a bunch of ignorant racists attempted to use genetics as a narrative for a pre-determined social policy of destruction is entirely counterproductive.


User currently offlineRampart From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 3152 posts, RR: 6
Reply 22, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2322 times:



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 19):
I don't know how you're taking it, but I'm not accepting any eugenics, not even when it's wrapped in nice puppy paper. I'm sorry, but my personal line goes there. If you want to, I can go to the library and scan & translate some 1930s articles for you that contain precisely what I see a person claim here. I even know personally some people who've written academically on the subject, the subject of eugenics interests social historians who study the history of marginal groups in general. We've been there before, and there's no need to relive the period. Period.

I'm fully aware of eugenics, again thanks for the superior attitude, and am also well read in environmental determinism. Are you up on that? What's been mentioned in this thread is neither. I agree that nobody should accept eugenics. However, one can't deny socioeconomic statistics. But this has nothing to do with dogs. I'm sure you don't own one.

-Rampart


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20241 posts, RR: 59
Reply 23, posted (4 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 2291 times:



Quoting IADCA (Reply 21):
Refusing to talk about gene therapy because a bunch of ignorant racists attempted to use genetics as a narrative for a pre-determined social policy of destruction is entirely counterproductive.

He accuse me of being fascinated with eugenics, but I have never once brought it up. In fact, I abhor the idea. It has always been AverageUser who has brought it up. Why are you so fascinated with eugenics, sir?


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