Do Dogs Originate From Wolves

Do Dogs Originate From Wolves

Dogs And There Origins.

Reference From Darren Naish: Tetrapod Zoology

Dogs were first domesticated from wolves at least 12,000 years ago. In this time, the dog has developed into hundreds of breeds with a great degree of variation. For example, heights at the small range from just a few inches (such as the Chihuahua) to roughly three feet (such as the Irish Wolfhound), and colors range from white to black, with reds, grays, and browns occurring in a tremendous variation of patterns. Two genetic studies have just rewritten the history of humanity's best friend. The new version has moved the origins of the domestic dog from the Middle East to East Asia and argues that the first people to venture into the Americas brought their dogs with them. However, because mitochondrial DNA is maternally inherited, interbreeding between female dogs and male coyotes or jackals would not be detected. Therefore, a more limited study of nuclear DNA was also carried out. This also supported the conclusion that the wolf was the ancestor of the domestic dog.
Are domestic dogs really wolves?
The implication from these lines of evidence is that domestic dogs descend from an ancestral pariah-like form which was quite different from wolves and that, while domestic dogs and wolves are closely related, they are distinct. Domestic dogs seem to have an independent history of descent and do not simply merge into wolves when the opportunity arises.


According to the conventional theory of dog domestication, wolves were domesticated either to function as big game hunters, or as guards. But here there are problems. If wolves really were domesticated prior to about 10,000 years ago , the earliest domestic dogs would have been living alongside people that were using clubs, spears and other such tools to subdue large prey, and therefore hunting via stealth and ambush. This poses a problem for the idea that people domesticated dogs to assist in large game hunting, as the chasing behaviour instinctive to wolves would presumably hinder human hunting efforts. Even in dingos we find that they’ve apparently always been preventing from participating in aboriginal kangaroo hunts because their chasing behaviour made the hunts a failure*. People would also have to pretty much fight with wolves in order to get any game animals back off them, given that wolves are highly food-possessive.
While they can be tamed, wolves are actually very difficult to train. This probably results from their social system: only the dominant pair in the pack reproduces, and consequently there is an imperative to employ aggression to move up the pack hierarchy. These points don’t make wolves seem like ideal animals for domestication. Indeed, the fact that domestic dogs don’t form hierarchical packs makes them decidedly unwolf-like and it has been argued that the flexible social structure and high tolerance of domestic dogs to gregariousness suggests derivation from a canid that didn’t have a wolf-like hierarchical pack
It has long been recognised that domestic dogs differ from wolves in a number of detailed skull characters. Compared to wolves, domestic dogs are smaller and have proportionally smaller teeth, a wider palate, broader braincase and higher frontals, and smaller, less rounded auditory bullae.Indeed we know that several wolf-like domestic dog breeds (e.g., Saarloos wolfhound, Czech wolfhound, American tundra shepherd, American timber shepherd) were produced by deliberate crossing with wolves.

All of this begs the question: if domestic dogs aren't wolves, what are they? The answer seems to be that Canis familiaris is a distinct species with its own independent history. Prior to domestication, it presumably existed as a relatively small, generalized canid that voluntarily adopted the commensal pariah niche still occupied by many dog populations today. This is supported by the morphological and molecular distinctiveness of domestic dogs, by the anatomy and behaviour of primitive domestic dog breeds, and by the archaeological and fossil record. I am researching more at this stage-more posts to follow.
Reference From Darren Naish: Tetrapod Zoology -A really fascinating site to visit.
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