When Did Mankind Create the Modern Domesticated Dog?
Thousands of years ago, an ancient hunter was huddled by his fire, chewing the last morsels of meat from its bone and watching the wolf near the edge of his camp warily. The wolf looked thin and hungry. Without a pack to help him hunt, he was at the mercy of nature to provide him with whatever bits of nourishment he could find. From the looks of the wolf, though, pickings had been slim.
He edged a little closer to the hunter. The smell of his dinner was making the wolf drool uncontrollably. He was starving. The ancient man, feeling a little sorry for the poor beast, tossed the remains of his bone to the disheveled looking mongrel and retreated to his cave for the night.
The next morning, the hunter was up with the sun for another day of hunting for food. The wolf was at the cave entrance, but jogged a safe distance away when the hunter emerged. That night, while the hunter was again having his dinner by the fire, the wolf came a little closer. Again, the hunter tossed him the scraps of his dinner and went to bed.
Day after day, night after night, the hunter slowly won over the wolf. The animal, now much healthier and stronger than when the hunter first found him, follows him on his hunting trips, even driving prey back towards the hunter’s position when it manages to outrun him. The wolf lies by the ancient man’s feet and listens for danger. No longer begging for scraps, the wolf’s belly is full from the spoils of hunting with his master. After dinner, they retire to the cave for a night’s sleep.
Man had domesticated the wolf
No one knows when man really domesticated the dog, but scientists think it happened about 15,000 years ago, though some think it could have happened about 30,000 years ago. It is not known why the wolf diverged from its evolutionary path and began the path to domestication, but some scientists think that wolves that had less fear of humans and were content to scavenge around campsites were the first steps towards the evolution of the modern dog.
Most of the evidence for the evolution of dogs into a domesticated animal comes from archeological and genetic evidence in caves and excavations that state a large canine that survived on a diet of ox and horse lived more than 30,000 years ago and place them as domesticated by the shortened muzzle and crowding of the teeth on the jaw. Before that, the earliest burial plot of a human with a dog was dated at around 10,000 to 14,000 years ago.
Even though the evolutionary timeline for the appearance of domesticated dogs is strewn with controversy, and it’s widely believed that man domesticated the wolf, there really isn’t any evidence that the adaptation and evolution of modern dog species was due to being in the presence of the ancestors of the modern man. Some biologists believe, however, that the key to canine evolution came with permanent human settlements, which would have large amounts of disposable food and further separate wild dogs from their more domesticated siblings.