Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Human hunter-gatherers and wolves experienced several overlaps as both are social species, they shared habitat and hunted the same prey. There are four theories to explain possible routes for domestication of the dog:
- Orphaned wolf-cubs: Studies have shown that wolf pups taken at an early age and reared by humans are easily tamed and socialized. Once these early adoptees started breeding amongst themselves, a new generation of tame "wolf-like" domestic animals would result which would over generations of time, become more dog-like.
- The Promise of Food: Early wolves would be attracted to the bones and refuse dumps of human camping sites as scavengers. Once there, they would recognise specific humans as "ours" and in protecting their range from strangers, would be useful to prevent surprise attack. These early adoptee became tame wolves dependent on humans for their source of food. The Papua New Guinean "singing dogs" have such a function today, as do the pariah dogs of India. Dr. Raymond Coppinger of Hampshire College, Massachusetts, argues that such wolves over time would become less fearful of humans than most wild wolves, and this trait may have been inheritable, making these wolves more likely to be domesticated. The wolves hypothetically separated into two populations, the village-oriented scavengers and the packs of hunters. The next steps have not been defined, but selective pressure must have been present to sustain the divergence of these populations.
- As a beast of burden: North American Indians used dog sized travois, before adapting the horse for this purpose, and huskies are famous for their pulling of sleds for Inuit communities. It is very probable that the dog was the original beast of burden before the domestication of the horse or ox, and their uses as beasts of burden.
- Dogs as a source of food and fur: Whilst westerners have difficulty thinking of dogs (or wolves) as a source of meat, wolf fur is a highly prized commodity.
Hybrid or domestic wolves are still thriving in modern times. The current estimate is that there are more than 2.5 million domestic or “hybrid” wolves in North America today. If you are interested in adopting your own hybrid or domesticated wolf then you owe it to yourself to visit StarCrossWolves.com for more details.