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New Research Sheds Light On the Evolution of Dogs

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the a-caveboy-and-his-dog dept.

Science 374

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The first dogs descended from wolves about 14,000 years ago but according to Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods humans didn't domesticate dogs — dogs sought out humans and domesticated us. Humans have a long history of eradicating wolves, rather than trying to adopt them which raises the question: How was the wolf tolerated by humans long enough to evolve into the domestic dog? 'The short version is that we often think of evolution as being the survival of the fittest, where the strong and the dominant survive and the soft and weak perish. But essentially, far from the survival of the leanest and meanest, the success of dogs comes down to survival of the friendliest.' Most likely, it was wolves that approached us, not the other way around, probably while they were scavenging around garbage dumps on the edge of human settlements. The wolves that were bold but aggressive would have been killed by humans, and so only the ones that were bold and friendly would have been tolerated. In a few generations, these friendly wolves became distinctive from their more aggressive relatives with splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. But the changes did not just affect their looks but their psychology. Protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures. 'As dog owners, we take for granted that we can point to a ball or toy and our dog will bound off to get it,' write Hare and Woods. 'But the ability of dogs to read human gestures is remarkable. Even our closest relatives — chimpanzees and bonobos — can't read our gestures as readily as dogs can. 'With this new ability, these protodogs were worth knowing. People who had dogs during a hunt would likely have had an advantage over those who didn't. Finally when times were tough, dogs could have served as an emergency food supply and once humans realized the usefulness of keeping dogs as emergency food, it was not a huge jump to realize plants could be used in a similar way.' This is the secret to the genius of dogs: It's when dogs join forces with us that they become special," conclude Hare and Woods. 'Dogs may even have been the catalyst for our civilization.'"

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primate dolts (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43065981)

> Even our closest relatives â" chimpanzees and bonobos â" can't
> read our gestures as readily as dogs can.

You can (quite seriously) include many humans in that as well. And on the other side of that coin, it's no surprise that many people relate to dogs a lot better than they do to other people.

Re:primate dolts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066239)

it's no surprise that many people relate to dogs a lot better than they do to other people.

Except the people that only encounter them as another enemy beast to defeat in computer games. This is probably only a story because those people are constantly surprised that nice dogs can exist.

I love my FIRST POST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43065985)

I love my dog. She's an Australian Shephard & German Shephard mix and is 5 years old. My wife and I just taught her to play dead at the hand command of a 'gun' and a bang sound.

Re:I love my FIRST POST (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066411)

I taught the same to my wife, but she ain't australian or german...

On another front, "new research" corroboates (-1, Troll)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year and a half ago | (#43065987)

samzenpus really is an idiot

I'd think it takes two (4, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43065989)

I'd think it takes two.

And from what I see humans have applied selection pressure on the dogs more than the other way around.

On a related note:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'd think it takes two (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066061)

As is typical in summaries here, and the attention-seeking articles they come from, the content doesn't seem to be as radical as the sales pitch.

Nothing in the summary suggests wolves domesticated humans. It doesn't suggest that they caused us to somehow adapt. It describes a peculiarity in some wolves that turned out to be advantageous, and snowballed into full scale domestication.

Color me surprised.

Re:I'd think it takes two (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066097)

As is typical in summaries here, and the attention-seeking articles they come from, the content doesn't seem to be as radical as the sales pitch.

Nothing in the summary suggests wolves domesticated humans. It doesn't suggest that they caused us to somehow adapt. It describes a peculiarity in some wolves that turned out to be advantageous, and snowballed into full scale domestication.

Color me surprised.

But dogs also caused us to domesticate plants too. It's right there in TFS, so it must be true.

Re:I'd think it takes two (5, Insightful)

Evtim (1022085) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066193)

I think I posted this once here for a different discussion. Imagine two villages - A and B. The people from A for whatever reason - genetics or behavior (or both) are afraid of wolves/dogs more than the people from village B. Village B over time domesticates few wolves and village A does not. Village B now has evolutionary advantage. fast forward - over time, people who cannot be "domesticated" by the wolves disappear just as wolves that cannot be domesticated by humans disappear.
The process goes two ways. Usually we ascribe the "intention" to the human side only, because of the wide-spread fallacy that you need "intention" for the evolutionary process to happen...

Re:I'd think it takes two (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066267)

The essay based on the book doesn't appear to make this as a strong case, except to suggest that maybe there was some advantage to being able to eat them when times got tough, or perhaps as warning systems.

It doesn't look like it makes any firm case for "wolves domesticating people".

Re:I'd think it takes two (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066273)

As a gerbil owner, I'm sure you can't find the appreciation....

Reasearch is far from over... (1)

duneo (1220936) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066181)

There is way more research being done at Aberdeen University and it just started in October Search for the first ‘man’s best friend’ [abdn.ac.uk]

Re:I'd think it takes two (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066185)

From the article:

Dr. Brian Hare is the director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center and Vanessa Woods is a research scientist at Duke University.

Not to argue from authority or anything but what are your qualifications for making the statement so blatantly dismissing their statements? Where are your findings published?

Re:I'd think it takes two (1)

Pale Dot (2813911) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066423)

Domesticated animals tend to look more immature than their more feral ancestors, this goes for humans, dogs, and the domesticated fox in your link. In the future we'll look like gigantic fetuses with puny limbs and oversize heads and eyes [wikipedia.org] .

Mythology (0)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43065997)

It just keeps getting cooler.

Re:Mythology (0)

AlienSexist (686923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066087)

Mythology... cooler.. I get it! Man-Made Global Warming. Clever hidden joke.

Re:Mythology (0)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066231)

I didn't mean that, but, I'll accept your recycling of my joke.
Although the Warmist might rebut that "It just keeps getting cooler" is, itself, the mythology, and haul your little Denier booty off to Room 101.

Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates that! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066005)

Evolution is not driven by a species' "desire" to do things.

It's clear from the information in the summary that humans domesticated dogs via unnatural selection (we killed off the ones we didn't like), yet the first sentence implies the authors reached the opposite conclusion.

Species do not make up their minds to evolve into X. It just happens. Don't try to make up reasons why the species wanted it that way.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (5, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066047)

There is no 'unnatural selection'. If we killed off the one we didn't like then we were just one more evolutionary pressure just like meteor strike or sudden climate change would be.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066125)

Natural: Adjective
Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.

I'll give you one guess as to what "unnatural" means.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066177)

Natural (adj) - in accordance with human nature
Natural (adj) - illegitimate; born out of wedlock
Natural (adj) - not artificially dyed or coloured

Are you claiming that humans are inherently opposed to dogs, that dogs must be married before having puppies, and that all dogs have dyed hair? Or are you perhaps picking a single unrelated definition and suggesting that it is universally exhaustive?

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (3, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066307)

Anonymous Coward: noun

Idiot who thinks that making up definitions helps him win arguments.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066149)

Even though I agree with you for the times back then, if we suddenly decided to exterminate say all.... badgers, or pandas today on a whim (if we could), wouldn't that be a bit more contrived than otherwise? Back then, we were more worried about food and survival so that's what makes things different.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066219)

You mean we're now, somehow, past evolution?

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066371)

not really, stop thinking of us humans as special and start thinking of us as just another species within nature and you'll see that us killing off badgers or saving pandas is no different than any other external force on those species.

Evolution = "shit happens, live with it" (those who can't, die off).

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066069)

"we often think of evolution as being the survival of the fittest, where the strong and the dominant survive and the soft and weak perish."
Well, the fittest strains have no real need to change, their evolution always comes out with the same result: "keep up the good work and don't ever change". It is soft and weak, underdogs and losers, who undergo at first just a change of behavior to an alternative or niche, avoiding fierce competition with members of the mainstream, then getting worked on by evolution, who shapes them into a more snug fit to their new place. When they are well adapted and many, their paths may or may not cross again. Sometimes another path leads above old path ... in human cultures and history, fierce barbarians threatening sophisticated well' established empires are hardened offspring of former losers running for their lives to the hills and inhospitable places. There is always a step back, or down, before a breakthrough or a revolution is about to happen.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066283)

Not only that, the key word here is "the fittest". And the fittest might be the strongest or the most, but it doesn't necessarily is. It just means the one who fits best its chosen ecological niche. If the niche prefers someone strong and dominant, then and only then "the fittest" means someone strong and dominant. But for instance, in a species, whose predators are in general much larger and stronger, being strong and dominant means just to stick out and be a prime target for the predators. An example are fish stock, which are heavily fished, and which now show a tendency to early maturation, higher reproduction rate and smaller sizes for grownups.

Other cases are parasites and pests, where being too strong and too dominant might be killing of the own host prematurely and thus diminishing your chance to spread to other hosts in time. Many diseases were killing off people very soon, when they came first into a new population, but within time, grew more and more weak, like the Syphilis.

For species which rely on cooperation and forming of close-knit groups, being strong and dominant might just mean that there is no group for you to fit in. Then you are the literal "lone wolf", prone to an early death and no chance to reproduce. For some lone wolfs, accepting a human group as ersatz wolfpack might be just have been the right way to survive.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066353)

However, it is not the strongest of the species that survice, but the most (correctly) responsive to change.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066099)

Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates that!

If it hates it so much why did it evolve us to do it?

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066151)

Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates that!

If it hates it so much why did it evolve us to do it?

It made a mistake. It will correct it.

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066169)

There is no purpose or goal in evolution but to maximize the probability of procreation for the complete bundle of trains and a good portion of randomness, because thats what decides what gets passed on to the next generation.

So anthropomorphizing things either improves your chances to get healthy children or atleast doesnt reduce them.

It's not entirely evolution, here (1, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066319)

Species do not make up their minds to evolve into X

You are right on that statement, however, the statement that wolves evolved into domestic dogs is not entirely true. For a population to fully evolve into a new species, the ability to of the new species to interbreed and produce fertile offspring with the original species must be lost. Domestic dogs can freely breed with wolves and produce fertile offspring, so they have not completely evolved into separate species.

Re:It's not entirely evolution, here (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066425)

Species do not make up their minds to evolve into X

You are right on that statement, however, the statement that wolves evolved into domestic dogs is not entirely true. For a population to fully evolve into a new species, the ability to of the new species to interbreed and produce fertile offspring with the original species must be lost. Domestic dogs can freely breed with wolves and produce fertile offspring, so they have not completely evolved into separate species.

Did the previous poster state anywhere that X was a new species, rather than simply a new subspecies?

Re:Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates tha (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066347)

so evolution is not a theory or a process, it's merely an observation?

Hare + Woods + dogs = ? (5, Funny)

Valentttine (2420782) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066013)

Hare and Woods researching dogs, there's a joke in there somewhere

Re:Hare + Woods + dogs = ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066245)

Shhh, be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits!

Re:Hare + Woods + dogs = ? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066351)

In Soviet Russia, Hare chases DOG!

No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (1, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066017)

'Dogs may even have been the catalyst for our civilization.

Ayatollah Khomeini says,

"Eleven things are unclean: urine, excrement, sperm, blood, a dog, a pig, bones, a non-Muslim man and woman, wine, beer, and the perspiration of a camel that eats filth."

This is probably based on many references in the Hadith, eg. drom Muslim #Number 055

Ibn Mughaffal reported: The Messenger of Allah ordered killing of the dogs, and then said: What about them, i. e. about other dogs? and then granted concession (to keep) the dog for hunting and the dog for (the security) of the herd, and said: When the dog licks the utensil, wash it seven times, and rub it with earth the eighth time.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066053)

Yeah, right, you are "civalised", because dogs lick your utensils.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066081)

I never allow my dog to lick my "utensils". He's quite capable of licking his own, thank you very much.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066113)

ROFLMAO I was waiting for someone to breach that particular innuendo. [ golf clap ]

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (2)

deniable (76198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066407)

Even when the vet takes them away, he'll still lick them.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066095)

You wash something first and than rub it in earth to get it clean?

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066121)

"When the dog licks the utensil, wash it seven times, and rub it with earth the eighth time."

That bit made me lol.

Wash off the dog saliva, which is often full of relatively good bacteria, but still, I understand it's icky, wash it off, that's fine.

But then rub it with Earth, what the? If anything is unclean, it's utensils, rubbed with earth.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066255)

Anyone that adheres to any form of religion is a fucktard that should be removed from society. There, I said it.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066271)

Religion is the cancer that eats away at society and undermines mankind. Almost all wars throughout history came to be because of religion.

Definitely the worst human invention yet.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066379)

Congrats, you and the poster you replied to collectively win the award for dumbest /. comment ever. Now get off the Internet.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066409)

yet oddly enough, a strong argument can be made that the only reason you exist today to make such a bold statement is because of religion.

Keep in mind, most rules of sanitation we enjoy today can trace their roots back to religious practices, such as not participating in canablilsm (think of how many african cultures did this if you think it's just common sense), burying or burning the dead, not eating preditory animals, proper methods to butcher animals, etc. All these find their way back to religious practices.

Or how about laying out ground rules for living within a society, like not banging your neighbors wife, and not stealing, yup, all that stuff is just stupid if you want to live peacefully in a society.

People get too caught up in the supernatural portion of religion, and forget that the bulk of it is actually sound advise on how to live your life and get along within society. And yes, I'm aware that it's been used as a catalyst for wars, but come on, damn near everything has been used to start a war. Human kind likes to fight and is usually just looking for an excuse.

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (1)

wikdwarlock (570969) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066259)

Ayatollah Khomeini says,

"Eleven things are unclean: ... and the perspiration of a camel that eats filth."

How come there's such a specific prohibition on camels?

And how are you supposed to know if the camel ever ate filth?

Re:No surprise then that the uncivalised hate them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066295)

Ayatollah Khomeini says,

"Eleven things are unclean: ... and the perspiration of a camel that eats filth."

How come there's such a specific prohibition on camels? And how are you supposed to know if the camel ever ate filth?

If they have munched your copy of the koran

How is this new research? (5, Insightful)

tbird81 (946205) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066025)

I thought it was presumed by anyone that humans didn't go out, capture wolves and then selectively breed them for friendliness.

Isn't what the summary says exactly what people have always said?

Re:How is this new research? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066077)

This exact same subject was covered in a Nature documentary "Dogs that Changed the World" back in 2007!

Re:How is this new research? (2)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066141)

And how is this more shocking than "symbiosis", a kind of mechanism that was probably discovered back in the days of Darwin.

Re:How is this new research? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066445)

Ah, well let me introduce you to my best friend: Mr Edward Strawman. Whenever I want to make myself look important, I have an argument with him....

Not the golden schakal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066031)

I thought dogs descended from the golden schakal, not wolves?

NOT from wolves. (2)

leuk_he (194174) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066155)

There are wild dogs. And the wikipedia acticle also speaks about coyote as forefather. Why then always use the wolves is a mystery.

Re:NOT from wolves. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066361)

There are wild dogs. And the wikipedia acticle also speaks about coyote as forefather. Why then always use the wolves is a mystery.

The coyote is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America. For the wikipedia article to be universally right you must assume that there were no domesticated dogs in Euroasia before the colonization of America.
Since we know that this is not the case that rules out coyotes as forefathers for domesticated dogs in Europe, in the case of dogs used by native Americans this could still be true but genetic analysis suggests wolves.

Re:NOT from wolves. (3, Informative)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066451)

In the old days, the dog-like creatures were classified in three groups: canis (domestic dogs), vulpus (foxes), lupus (wolf). The old line was that dogs and wolves were very different things. The consideration of the wolf as the forefather of the modern dog is a very modern thing, based on DNA analysis. It's now so widely accepted that lupus is now a subspecies of canis, so we have "canis lupus" and "canis familiaris".

Oh dear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066039)

That's not quite how domestication works. There's quite a few other animals who'll both accept humans in their pack-hierarchy (dogs being the canonical example) or flock (ducks, parrots, cows, etc), and have sufficiently obvious gestures to be interpreted by people.

We've also all heard the stories of a particular cat and dog becoming the closest of friends, and of budgies learning to meow like their cat friend. That only happens around people, and between animals who're already domesticated.

Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066079)

Dogs are filthy and obnoxious animals. They have little place in our modern society. I'm sick of being barked at, chased, and
having dog shit everywhere I go, including INSIDE of people's houses. Dogs were fine on the farm. In our compact, urban society, dogs are just giants sources of stress. I have enough stress in my life without your personal stress-maker making stress for me TOO.

The Bible says that Dogs are unclean and bad animals. I guess some religions wisely got a head-start on the no more dogs movement.

Re:Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066119)

I prefer the company of my dogs to any person. If society was just, we'd be allowed to kill annoying humans. ;)

Re:Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (4, Insightful)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066133)

None of these problems are the dog's fault, they're just not trained or housebroken. My dog doesn't bark, chase, or shit in the house, and when he does outside, I always have bags to pick it up. You need to be annoyed with the masters, not the servants.

Re:Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (1)

will_die (586523) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066217)

The Bible does not say they are unclean like pigs or other such animals. They usually referenced as scavengers eating the bodies of the dead or things such as that; or reference that a person who so bad off that only the dogs would clean his wounds. There are also references in the Bible as them as guard dogs or working as work dogs.
Now the koran does mark them as unclean and the few places that you see them in the middle east, outside of Israel, they are often treated very badly. When seen they are usually as guard dogs or as work dogs.

Re:Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066463)

I also don't understand that whole "eating the bodies of the dead". Aren't all meat eaters essentially eating the bodies of the dead? Unless you like your steak REALLY rare, of course. But then again I suspect the cow wouldn't appreciate you trying to bite a chunk of fillet out, you would probably get hoofed in the teeth...

Re:Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066253)

The bible does not say that, but Islam's hadiths do.

Re:Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066297)

i wouldn't go as far as to call a dog filthy, but they definitely dirty. but dog's got personality. personality goes a long way

Re:Too bad, only a few humans have evolved too. (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066301)

Humans are filthy and obnoxious animals. They have little place in our modern society. I'm sick of being preached at, chased, and
having human garbage everywhere I go, including INSIDE of houses. Humans were fine on the farm. In our compact, urban society, humans are just giants sources of stress. I have enough stress in my life without your personal stress-maker making stress for me TOO.

The Bible says that humans are unclean and bad.

Survival of the prolific (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066089)

Evolution never did favor the leanest, fastest or any other trait we consider good as such. That is just anthropomorphism. It always favored the most prolific. What gets a species where it is might be largest or slowest. It depends on the environment in which it evolved.

Re:Survival of the prolific (3, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066331)

Being prolific means little. Producing offspring is a waste of energy if it doesn't get to survive long enough to reproduce.

Producing three kids that will live for 50 years works about as well as producing a hundred thousand which will almost all die. All that matters is that your species is resilient enough to survive bad times, and able to expand their numbers in good times.

Credit where it's due (4, Insightful)

opusman (33143) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066103)

If there's a domesticated species taking advantage of humans my money's definitely on cats rather than dogs.

Re:Credit where it's due (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066195)

SSshhhh. Keep it down or you'll be "disappeared" and placed deep in the tuna-mines.

Re:Credit where it's due (3, Funny)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066337)

Yeah, some people (my wife for instance) seem to be pathologically unable to live without a cat (or cats) around. I don't hate cats, but if I never saw another one in the rest of my life it wouldn't bother me overly. I just don't get the attraction people seem to feel for cats. They don't do anything, they just turn cat food into cat fur on the furniture :P

Re:Credit where it's due (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066431)

. I just don't get the attraction people seem to feel for cats. They don't do anything, they just turn cat food into cat fur on the furniture :P

They are generally kept in farms as a way to keep rodent infestations down to a minimum. Farm cats with this purpose aren't fed, leaving them to eat their natural preys. In this case, they cost you nothing but keep your food storage clean. (bonus points for having something around the kids can pet)

Today one of my 2 cats (brothers) left me a present, a nice dead mouse, freshly killed and all that, for me to eat. Sometimes they catch a bird (pigeons mostly). This happens because we feed them and this is them saying thanks. I always treat them nice when they do and toss the dead mouse in the garbage.

Re:Credit where it's due (5, Informative)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066461)

Not quite useless. In colder climates we call them "Self propelled hot water bottles." Get a good ( a matter of luck mostly ) and it will come when its called.

Cats also can be very effective detection systems. Mine will let me know about a dripping faucet, tree branch that has started rubbing the side the house etc; and anything making a new noise. She is very effective pre-diagnostic tool. Also at least a few times over the past years made her self useful as pest control.

Once last summer I opened the porch door to the outside an a mouse ran in (I think they live in garden ). I called the cat pointed at the mouse. She had it in my hand in 5min. I tossed it back into the garden to go about his business. It was unharmed; well physically anyway I am sure it was traumatic. Had I had to corner that mouse myself I would have been moving tables and generally tearing the place apart. The cat just basically watched it for moment and and then pounced.

Now I will readily concede that a dog could have probably do all these things just as well or better as the cat does; even the mousing. That said the cat is very low maintenance by comparison. I have had both. I don't have to walk the cat, I can leave an little extra food down; if I am not coming home some evening. The cat can handle herself for at least 48 hours. Same goes if you actually want to travel with your pet. Dogs on log (14+ hour) road trips are pain.

Survival of the fittest (5, Insightful)

dargaud (518470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066107)

"we often think of evolution as being the survival of the fittest, where the strong and the dominant survive and the soft and weak perish"

I like to give the example of birds. Which one is the most successful bird ? The most numerous on the planet. I'll give you a hint: it doesn't fly at all, it doesn't run fast and it's very good to eat. Still it's the most successful in terms of species: the chicken. Because it's good to eat, another specie (us) takes it everywhere and makes sure they reproduce in droves. Evolution works in funny ways...

Re:Survival of the fittest (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066249)

it doesn't fly at all

Hmmm. You obviously have never tried to catch a chicken before. City boy.

Re:Survival of the fittest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066395)

I may be waxing philosophical here, but does life in captivity equate to evolutionary success? Without the freedom to roam and intermingle, genetic bottlenecking and related problems can arise more easily.

"Fittest" doesn't mean strength (4, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066127)

"Survival of the fittest" should be read as "survival of the most fit-for-purpose". It has nothing to do with strength, ferocity, sharp teeth, etc.

Re:"Fittest" doesn't mean strength (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066215)

Something the social darwinists should take to heart as well.

Cooperation is one of the most useful survival traits we have. Give me 2 mediocre guys who work well together over a sociopath rockstar libertarian any day.

It means "knot fits perfectly with G-spot" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066229)

When you imagine why on earth people would start keeping dogs that don't go hunting with the men, think about how they kept the women happy.

What's new? (1)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066131)

What is new in this? I think I've heard most of this before (except the eating dogs part).

Re:What's new? (1)

Novogrudok (2486718) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066221)

It is not new. "Survival of the friendliest" dogs is described, for example, in Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale (2004).

I believe the wolves were taken (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066139)

I see nothing wrong in the "old" thory - that humans kept some wolves that eventually evolved into dogs.

Sure, humans have always been eager to eradicate competing/dangerous animals. But in doing so, they would come upon puppies now and then. And surely, some humans would find them cute. Then as now! It is then likely that someone tried to keep some puppies - if the times were good and there were food enough anyway. They could always kill them later, if they turned hostile.

Bringing up young animals one finds in nature (possibly after killing/chasing off parent animals) is something humans attempt now and then. It is an interesting hobby. And it succeeds for several species. Taming birds is almost trivial - just be there (instead of the mother bird) when the eggs hatch. But birds is not that useful, beyond keeping them for food and more eggs.

A tame wolf is valuable as soon as it grows up however. Even if it is a much rougher animal to handle than a modern dog. Any wolf expects to be in a pack - and will help its pack to survive. Using a wolf for hunting is doable - but it is tricky. Much more important is that the wolf will fight for you. When a wolf consider the local human village to be its pack, it will help fight off troublesome animals (even wild wolves). And it will help fight invading humans from other villages too. Puppies get useful within a year.

So if you're bothered by invaders, you can add wolves to your army. Likewise if you're into conquest. Selective breeding can improve the animals a lot. But even the first generation, taken from a mother wolf, will be useful in stone-age warfare. Training can make them more useful, but even a wolf that merely grew up with you, will take your side in any fight. Which is also why some people today keep a large dog for protection.

Re:I believe the wolves were taken (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066285)

"but birds is not that useful, beyond keeping them for food and more eggs."

Really? I need to let the people I know that have falcons and hunt with them that they are doing it wrong and should be eating them.

Re:I believe the wolves were taken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066335)

Not to mention messenger birds. Sure most people see the keeping of pigeons as one of the more unusual hobbies today, but such efforts were considered useful in the past. Before the advent of modern postal services and things like telephone and telegraph, if you needed to send a short message fast - having it tied to some bird that would always fly back to the same place was the way to go.

Likewise, the falconry mentioned above was also useful to keep these messages from getting through or otherwise intercepting them. (If the message was important enough, some people used redundant pigeons.) Consider it the original means of a DOS attack on IP via carrier pigeon.

My father had a wolf as a boy... apk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066369)

My grandfather found it and took the single pup home. It grew with the family for a year but eventually took off to be with its own kind (they lived in a border area between Poland and Russia, a giant forest).

My grandfather told my Father that one day, it would leave, and it did. He'd seen it happen before with male wolves.

That only makes sense once the male matures, he'll want a mate, and the only way to get that would be to join with its own kind.

My Father said wolves are a lot like dogs but more "devilish" (intelligence-wise, not evil - he said they are FAR more clever than typical dogs are). He said he saw it later (after it took off to join other wolves) a few times from a distance watching them do the fields (had a large farm and logging business before the Nazi's came & took it from them, putting them on trains to be slaves in a labor camp) on the borders of their land, but it never came back again once it had joined its own kind.

Still: Want a TRUE friend? Get a dog (even cats are good I have found out the past few years if you treat them with respect & perhaps most importantly of all - with love)...

APK

P.S.=> Bottom-Line, on dogs (which our society esteems quite highly & rightfully so) - I've said it before: "Dogs are better people than people" -> http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22DOGS+ARE+BETTER+PEOPLE+THAN+PEOPLE!%22+and+%22APK%22&btnG=Search&gbv=1&sei=1480UbKHGK-N0QHUqICQDw [google.com]

So many fails... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066213)

" Finally when times were tough, dogs could have served as an emergency food supply and once humans realized the usefulness of keeping dogs as emergency food, it was not a huge jump to realize plants could be used in a similar way"

Yeah, sure...
So they can find enough meat every day to feed dogs (who eat as much meat as a human does, since dogs are carnivores and humans are herbivores, and shouldn't even eat meat), but then they can kill their dogs when they can't find any more meat to eat...

And only THEN did they work out that they could keep plants for food supplies.

Sure...

Humans are herbivores, any human beings that ate meat in the past were neurotic and unnatural (not to mention too stupid to have worked out how to store grain, etc.)

Re:So many fails... (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066279)

"Humans are herbivores, any human beings that ate meat in the past were neurotic and unnatural "

Let me guess you also believe the world is only 6000 years old as well.

Flawed summary. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066275)

I have owned several dogs in my life and they learn sounds as well. I can have 4 items in a group and point and say "bone" and she will get the bon and not the ball.

At one time I had my collie able to find the "red ball" among the blue, red, and yellow ones... Dogs are colorblind, BTW.

Yes dogs understand gestures, if you ever had a duck hunting dog you know that is how you communicate with them before you shoot, but they understand far more than gestures. They understand them as good as they understand our noises, and it's not just because humans make the same motion all the time. Quadrapeligics cant point but the dog understands by training a different cue.

And that is the point. Dogs we train. Of all the animals we have only dogs get training and take to training easily. And you can do the same with cats.

Sadly most humans are far, far too stupid to know how to train dogs. You only resort to negative reinforcement as a last resort for changing bad behavior.... Most people start at the negative reinforcement.

Re:Flawed summary. (5, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066323)

At one time I had my collie able to find the "red ball" among the blue, red, and yellow ones... Dogs are colorblind, BTW.

No, they are not colorblind. They can see colors, just not as well as we do. Dogs can see two different color 'bands', humans can see three, and certain crustaceans (the mantis shrimp) can see about 11-12 bands. Talk about humans being colorblind. :)

Early color movies only used two color bands, and they look surprisingly good.

what about puppies? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066287)

This theory assumes that at some point, bold friendly dogs walked up to humans in an attempt to be friendly.

What about the packs of wolves that humans slaughtered when hunting for food and found a litter of puppies the now dead dogs were protecting?
I think this scenario would most likely be the first source domesticated animals, over a fully grown wolf who decides to become friendly.

When a scientist has a theory... (1)

Sivaraj (34067) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066329)

...why does he/she go on a tangent and link everything under the sun to his/her theory?

It is a very old symbiotic relationship (4, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066343)

It is no surprise that dogs were the first domestic animals, they were more effective hunters than individual humans and humans could give dogs sources of food that they couldn't access on their own (notably bone marrow from cooked bones, though also various processed grains). We not only had the dog before we had the horse, the cow, the cat, any bird or any non-canine mammal, we had the dog before we had what some would consider to be civilization. Hence by extending the hunting ability of the human, the dog could be credited with helping to domesticate the human.

Also worth noting that some of the very earliest grave sites from humans had dogs buried along side the humans; the dogs were that important to the earliest humans.

Dogs smarter than cats? (4, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066365)

Puuuleeeese. It's like " No Child Left Behind " testing. Some one with a PhD designs a test to fetch a ball, and proves dogs are smarter than cats.

I just was woken up to give the kitties their morning treats, then I changed their litter box, filled their water dish, was was still given the "look " because I prolly didn't do one of these things quickly enough. Then, I geld the door open for quite a while while one of the kitties sniffed and considered if going outside would be better than staying inside.

Dogs smarter? Only someone that isn't familiar with cats would even think this.

Dogs have owners.
Cats have staff.

Re:Dogs smarter than cats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066441)

Indeed acknowledging dogs as smarter just because they do what WE want them to do is a bit far reaching assumption.

I would put my money on cats without hesitation. They do whatever THEY want, and then we do whatever THEY want too.
Rightly so, cats are not smart, they are absolute geniuses!

I, for one, welcome our feline overlords!!

(and I have both cats and dogs and enjoy them a lot, no feline bias here, just experienced observation)

Re:Dogs smarter than cats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43066467)

Sorry, but that actually says more about you than about the cats ;)

What about foxes (1)

BlueTak (1218450) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066405)

Some think dogs don't come from wolves but from foxes : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox [wikipedia.org]

Re:What about foxes (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066419)

I seem to recall that every breed of domesticated dog (canis lupus familiaris) can be genetically traced back to wolves (canis lupus).

Dogs are incredible (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066417)

I am often amazed at how well they read my expressions, moods, commands. I swear they think they are running the household... maybe they are: they stay home all day and eat and play, while I go to work and go out to buy them food.

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