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Were First Dogs our Best Friends, or Savage Beasts?

Are dogs more like wolves than we once thought?

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Man’s best friend, the canine, who is always there to greet us with joy and excitement when we come home, who love us and are one of the best animal companions man has ever known, didn’t start out that way.

They have not always been wonderful warm and loving creatures that just want to cuddle up and be near us.

Researcher and scientist Clive D.L. Wynne of Arizona State University’s Canine Science Collaboratory reminds us from whence these “best friends” came and from what creature they evolved, reminding us, “They are vermin, along with other nasty things that are in the trash. But then a second phase kicks in.” He refers to humans discovering their use as well as their taste.

They basically come from mutant wolves that behaved quite similarly to rats rooting through garbage and dug in gutters and dumps.

The evolution from these mutant wolves to the canine companions we know today was a long road, or was it? It was evolutionary mutations in the wolf genome, also known as Canis lupus that gave us the domesticated dog.

Wynne, an expert on the topic of canine evolution and author of a new book not yet released, delved deep into the history of early canines, more precisely their cousin, the wolf. The variation is only slight between dogs and wolves as they are variants of the same species.

With these evolutionary mutations, the wolf started to become a bit friendlier, and the fear they held of humans subsided, gradually.

Once these wolves started coming around human villages and colonies looking for food, humans began to realize they had some use. They could bark, warning the humans of intruders, they could be trained to hunt, and and as much as many of us don’t want to hear, they could be food.

Many countries today still eat dogs.

And sadly, since dogs are not that far off from their distant cousin they inevitably have a habit of displaying a reversal of their evolutionary progress. According to Wynne, 75 percent of the worlds estimated billion dogs are living on the streets, scavenging like the family members from which they came. Maybe they haven’t evolved as much as we’d like to think.

Images via Wikimedia Commons… 1, 2

Were First Dogs our Best Friends, or Savage Beasts?
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