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Wolves, they’re hunters, fighters, and they stick together, but yet, you’re little, sweet, and adorable puppy doesn’t look like one today. Dogs have come a long way from being a wolf, to becoming a man’s best friend. The dogs you see today, were wolves that were domesticated overtime, this bringing us the dog you see today.
In order for us to figure out when did we domesticated wolves into dogs. We need to first find out at what point we first started to think of ourselves as separate from an animal so thus we could use the animal to get our own food, to help us hunt, to do all of these other things. The act of humans taking animals from the wild is domestication. Overtime we make those animals dependent on us, and we adapt them over generations to fit our needs like a work animal or a pet. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica “the initial stage of human mastery of wild animals and plants” is domestication.
Man has always had a relationship with animals, just as all animals had a relationship with each other but there’s evidence that horses were domesticated in 35,000 B.C. and dogs were being kept as pets maybe 30,000 years ago. Prior to what we could call history, but there is evidence that we’ve been eating meat for over 1.8 million years which brings us back to that time we started thinking of ourselves as different from the animals around us. Scientists found a child’s skull in Tanzania and it was similar to skulls of people suffering from malnutrition; a low meat diet which means at the time meat was a steady part of our ancestor’s diet and there’s evidence that early humans would make and use tools to hunt and kill animals which was 500,000 years ago.
So this is showing already the separation between human and animal and by this time, we’d already started to make these tools and cook meat over fires and helped up develop bigger brains, and become more evolve over time. We used our knowledge of those tools to get meat more easily. Early man respected animals, but they also used them. You could see this through early human art. This is when our reliance on animals really started and as soon as we became superior to animals, we didn’t just eat them and leave them for nature, we started using pieces of animals for other things. Bones became parts of society, we used them for tools, we use them to sew clothing with bone needles, we even were still using bone combs and things into the 19th century, and we were also using animal pelts as clothing for ourselves to advance our own ability to survive during hostile environments.
Now, let’s fast forward to our next relationship with animals. We didn’t just go and hunt them and then use their pelts and their bones and all their pieces. We started taking them out of the wild, where it was unpredictable, and bringing them closer to ourselves so we could breed them and do what we wanted to do with that ultimately which is not have to go find them in the woods. We were making them work for us instead of against us. Isn’t it easier to get a pig and guide them into the slaughterhouse and use its parts and its meats rather than chase and hunt down a wild boar? The first animals to be domesticated were not horses, were not pigs, but were in fact probably dogs.
No one really knows for sure what was the first domesticated animal. One scientist claims that a snail was technically the first domesticated animal. Most archaeologists and scientists agree that it was probably the dog, which came from the wolf. Some scientists were using something called the molecular clock to determine how old domesticated dogs actually are. What point in their genetic history that they split from the wolf. Take the DNA of a wolf, take the DNA of a dog and compare the two.
They’re very different, they have a number of different mutations. We look at those mutations, and we go back a couple generations with maybe some DNA we found in history, and we’ll look at that DNA even further back, and further back. The molecular clock is a way to trace that species and see where the species split off from each other. They’re looking for the changes in their gene sequences and finding the spot where if you go back, and back, and back, and back the things get closer together, mutations lessen, and you see that point where a mutation split them off from each other.
Separating from these species is one step in this process, being domesticated, that’s a completely different thing. We do know that dogs originated from ancient wolves and for a long time people thought that started 15,000 years ago. The oldest known dog fossil was about 14,000 years old but scientists based on molecular clock DNA evidence think that it may have happened ever further back, almost twice as far at 30,000 years ago. Based on DNA evidence some scientists look at the shape of the skulls of the dogs and they look at how the wolf became domesticated and its physical aspects and how it changed over time. Today, if you look at a dog at a wolf, they just don’t look different on the outside, they have different skeletal structures. There’s DNA differences but there are links, let’s say Siberian Huskies and the Siberian Wolf.
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