For nearly 32,000 man has had a best friend in the canine. Dogs, once wild animals that would kill anything that moves, are now a common place in house holds around the world. Nowadays dogs are taken for granted, and after living with a companion for over 30,000 years its not surprising to take that companion for granted. But when did man get his best friend, and why? Was it simply that some guy at some point in time needed a heavy object dragged, and didn't want to do it himself? Perhaps some one wanted a companion. Only one thing can be said for sure, these furry guys are among the most beloved animals in the world, and are welcome in many, many homes.
Archaeological and genetic evidence shows that domestication began as late as 15,000 years ago, and as early as nearly 32,000 years ago. The original species domesticated at the time, was the gray wolf, or Canis lupus. Dog domestication began for a myriad of reasons, protection, food, fur, and to act as a beast of burden. Even today, domestication of dogs continues in numerous ways in order to create a 'better' companion. Originally, some authors wrote that dogs were descended from a species of wild dog, now extinct, that was distinct from wolves; this has since been disproved.
The earliest carnivorous fossils, that can be linked to some variation of wolf or fox, are the Miacids that lived during the Eocene period, approximately 38 to 56 million years ago. These miacids, evolved into to separate branches, a cat-like and a dog-like branch. Canis priscolatrans' were the first true wolves to roam North America, which evolved twice more; after one final evolution, the gray wolf was born. The exact subspecies of wolf that was domesticated has yet to be discovered, but the best carndiates are bedeviled to be an undiscovered, now extinct, subspecies or the Indian wolf, or Canis lupus pallipes.
The specifics of gray wolf domestication are unclear, but there are several theories that put things into perspective nicely. One of these three theories are raising a gray wolf from birth, or near birth. Another, a self-domestication in order to survive. And the final, is a theory developed by a Russian scientist through experimental evidence. The simplest to grasp is the theory of raising wolf-cubs from birth.
Studies suggest that when wolf pups are raised by humans, they are relatively easily tamed and socialized. However, only one known study has proven this; as other attempts have proved none conclusive. Either the process was far to time-consuming, it wasn't practical, and/or unreliable in achieving an form of success. This led scientists to move over the exact details of the uprising, and focus short thereafter. Scientists believe that humans of old essentially adopted wolf cubs who had been orphaned, and nursed them alongside human babies. These adopted pups would eventually start breeding, and the new generation would be a much more tame, domestic animal. Over time, after many generations, these...