(Boney Bindra/Umang Kochhar) Human evolution was affected by a lot of things, we are, what we are, because of many factors and if we remove even one inch of any of it, we won’t be what you see today.
Dogs are one of the most important things in this cycle of evolution, even more important than weapons.
This four-legged creature is by far the most diverse species on the planet earth.
Whenever a dog is mentioned, an image pops up in my mind, one howling at the edge of a mountain in full moon, at first, this image is of a dog but, in a second or two it zooms in and turn into a wolf.
Same thing happened to me, who knows how many times, before I fall into thinking, “is there a chance that canines and wolves are interconnected species?”
DNA and Stuff
Genetically speaking, they are indeed very closely related to the each other, they’re apparently from the same family.
Apart from howling, detecting a smell has been, yet another, great common feature of these organisms.
Surprisingly postmodern dogs share staggering 99.5 per cent of genetic sequences with Grey Wolves of Europe.
This is very amusing as this percentage is higher than any of the other members of today’s dog’s evolutional family.
Deciphering The Dog
To get a deep dive, to understand the evolution process of dogs in relation to humans, I look through the social aspects of these creatures.
If you see this piece of information through 21st century’s lenses, dogs in the present day are following their traditional rules and treaty when they accompany and help humans but we from partners have turned into a self-appointed master.
Anthropologically speaking, this change can be underlined in this process of evolution.
Carrying the allegation is this argument, “In India, owner of the dog decides the diet of the dog, usually a vegetarian owner opt a vegetarian diet for their canine and same goes the meat-eating pet owners”.
To move further, book of Bruce L Berg, “Qualitative research methods for social science” guides me, how to conduct an auto ethnographic study.
It is an autobiographical, ethnography, or auto ethnography, which means people’s own description about themselves.
Presently, we know dogs as friendly four-legged animals, which are loyal to their keepers.
To understand this, I try to unravel the notion of loyalty put forth by these creatures toward humans.
In today’s world when humans are no more hunter gatherers and by & large depends upon the agriculture produce, pertinently, here the evolution of dogs becomes crucial to our enquiry.
Particularly, if one agrees to Pat Shipman’s view of these early dogs as the “living tools”.
This statement needs deeper understanding when accessing this through the prism of auto ethnography.
To my understanding the use of term “living tools” in connection with the wolf-dogs or early dogs’ points toward the realisation of common needs when living in common space with the humans.
Coming From The Caves
Decoding these terms in connection with the human evolution, one needs to look into the Chauvet Cave discovery of 1994.
It is one such proof which pushes the domestication theory to the Mesolithic age which was earlier believed to be the Neolithic age.
As this particular marker points toward the discovery of 1977 archaeological finds in the northern Israel.
During, the excavations it was found that a four-month-old puppy was buried along with an elderly human.
The historic footprints found in the Chauvet caves as per the discoverers are like looking at a snapshot taken on the time from far back and there are many questions which are to be answered, yet.
When the boy entered the cave with his ‘friendly-dog’, these footprints got engraved into the floor until it was rediscovered in 1994.
However, one thing which Chauvet cave brings out is that the paw mark which the followed the young fellow in the cave is of wolf-dog i.e. of liminal stage.
That is supposedly a missing link between the evolutional chains of wild wolves to domestic dogs.
When one tries to play skipping stones on these missing links, the scientific theories comes handier.
It is suggested that the dogs arose from diverse origins and particularly, around 15,000 years ago.
On the contrary, if we go by the findings of Goyet Cave in Belgium, by fact we can claim that dogs have been living on planet earth from more than 36000 years.
In this pre-historic cave, anthropologists got their hands on, Ice Age artefacts, which include, one bone harpoon, bones of mammoth, red deer, cave lion, lynx and shell necklaces.
Dog skull found in the cave during the excavations dated around 36,000 years old through the radiocarbon dating.
To understand the domestication of dogs we have to comprehend with this theory.
Mostly scientists and discoverers believe that this man-canine relation was a two-way street, where wolves were getting easy meals and humans were getting extra protection.
The human-wolf relationship must be thanking winters a lot, because it was the winters which allured wolves to the human camps, when meat was hard to get.
According to the popular belief wolves used to run search operations around human camps at night, in the search of left overs from suppers.
In the beginning it must have been a very fragile relationship, as it was a time of experimentation for the both the sides.
One can say it was the wolves who initiated first move and then the human response followed through an action, which proved to be a foundation for the birth of a whole new specie.
They Were Hunting Wing Men too
Wolf-dogs were used by humans with not-so-developed weapons as ‘wing-men’ while hunting.
The forefathers of modern-day dogs were used to single out weaker animals from the herds and sometimes to slow the animal down, so the humans could hunt it with spears.
This indeed, established an extraordinary bonding, that increased the ratio of meat brought back to camps and hunger rates took a nosedive.
At the core of this relationship, nature of both the species played an important role as hunted food was brought back to their respective packs.
Soon, this alliance understood the working capabilities of each other, this very social aspect of mutual parties involved, i.e. bringing the food back to the pack, strengthen this alliance for the future hunts.
As the success rate of this neo-coalition attracted minds on both camps, the togetherness was declared a hit and after a few more winters, more members joined the hunt-fest.
Migrating was Must
This union then grew mature and hence, the mortal-duo started migrating in an intra-specie herd, as the wolves followed the humans in this process.
Historically speaking, apart from being hunt partners, these canines proved to be an essential asset when moving to new lands.
They carried loads and guarded the human herds.
The Walking Weapons
Particularly, during the Neolithic age when humans were progressing towards the agriculture, these creatures also specialised in acquiring a role of shepherd for the livestock, German Sheppard breed of dogs is the modern-day example of it.
This particular marker gives an insight about the capabilities of this non-human friend of beings.
As the concept of agriculture and food storage went viral during that time, which gave birth to a new type of lust, for looting the food, tribe-battles were the worst outcome of that, which I suggest, can be called “grain war”.
When the most intelligent being on earth was set to erase the other from the surface of it, it was these new pals which were coming handy at these extreme times too.
Here I propose that wolf-dogs were being used by some tribes of early humans as “walking weapons”, a quicker and lethal arsenal, than the already existing stones tools.
Copying the hunting technique, wolves were here trained to engage the prey so that their human can kill him/her.
This tactic was used for both offensive and defensive phases of the grain battles.
Usage of wolf-dogs in clashes must also have gained popularity at that time, as they were beasty figures in the folklores of that time, which come at night and drag away the weaker humans into the dark woods.
Human psyche of building on to the fears of early life must have also played a huge part in the sprouting of warfare.
Also, the term warfare we understand would have been very different from our contemporary understanding of the word.
The Utopia With a Flaw
We can also use this theory to break another established acceptance that Indus valley civilization was not into warfare, as they were using dogs too.
To unfurl the thought more, it can be assumed that Indus (people) were an agriculture-based populace who couldn’t possibly have needed dogs for this purpose, as they were already settled around a land extremely rich for plantation.
So, for what they needed dogs for? Let’s take a few paws back, we earlier discussed about “grain war”, tribes attacking tribes for food and how canines being used for defence as well as attacking too.
Indus (people) kept these canines just like many other post and pre-Indus cultures, which means they must have been also attacked by other civilizations at some point of time in history, which establishes this that these people were exposed to the notion of warfare.
However, due to the lack of evidence, this paucity in unravelling the concept of utopia in Indus Valley Civilisation would remain unchanged.
To gain tentative conclusions, I would agree to the established scheme, that it was the wolf who began the process of domestication by approaching the human camps in the search of easy food, in which nature played a huge role too.
Then this was followed by the second wave of domestication where the humans deliberately directed these wolves into the new form.
Guarding, hunting, herding, moving anything an early man could think of these tail wagging animals were able to do.
Obviously, whosoever had wolves with them, had upper hand over any attacker or possible prey, which automatically boosted their survival chances.
What we see as a dog figure these days took a lot of effort, time and blood from both the species, canine and human.
Thus, it can be stated that these developments accelerated the process of human evolution.
Dogs even now just like the good old times, are a symbol of power, dominance and a feeling of puffiness, which is traced with the domestication of dog breeds like, blood hound, pit bulls and huskies.