“Howl” to “Woof”

Hi guys, its me your favourite blogger on the block who’s back with yet another cool post. There are about 7.4 billion people on Earth today & over 200 million dogs! So exactly when where & why did warm-blooded wolves join our fold? And who trained who? So are you a cat person or a dog person? Me, I’m completely impartial! Yeah right! I love dogs more than anything in this whole wide universe(Well maybe except my family), seriously what’s not to love? No matter on which side of the furry border you are on, it’s plain to see that the histories of mankind & dogs are intertwined, maybe like no other two species.

If we take domestication out of the human equation, it’s estimated that just 1 or 2 million of us would be around today & of all those animal alliances, our relationship with dogs is by far the oldest. But figuring out why, when & where domestic dogs originated is still a bone of contention.

Why is by far the easiest to answer. Every continent is home to wild canids like the dingos of Australia or the dhole of India(Yes I know that India isn’t a continent but come on, you can excuse me for being a bit patriotic, right?) but thanks to genetic research, we know that modern-day pups haven’t descended from these local species. Today’s dogs all trace their origin back to ancient wolves.

You may have heard that wolves & ancient humans were hunting Bros, using teamwork to bring down bigger prey. That’s a nice story but wolf packs can hunt on their own just fine & usually aren’t to keen on sharing! Plus, early humans tended to kill off most carnivorous competition. It’s most likely that humans didn’t adopt dogs, Dogs adopted us!!

Any wolves “gone mild” that were tolerant of humans could have scrounged our scraps. They didn’t need us, but our leftovers would’ve made their lives much easier. This habit is still very much present in modern-day dogs, as every Trash Can will testify & every dog owner will confirm this fact 😉 ! But a tame wolf, isn’t a dog & scientists are still trying to figure when & where that change occurred.

Studying living wolves tells us that the line that led to our puppies is extinct today, but we can see still find their footprints in modern dog genomes. Looking at DNA in mitochondria tells us that dogs split from their wolf ancestors somewhere in Europe between 19,000 to 32,000 years ago but genome from dozens of living dogs puts the split somewhere in South Asia at around 33,000 years ago( seriously, that’s a lot of yrs ago!!)

It’s tough to pin down because dog genes have mixed so much. Fossils don’t tell the whole story either because bones alone can’t tell us when the thing that looked like a wolf started acting like a dog. But by combining both fossils & DNA, we’re able to get some hints. DNA extracted from ancient dog fossils has suggested a new story, the spilt happened in 2 places, at least 12,000 yrs ago. And then eastern dogs followed people west & became the dominant ancestor of our canine compadres.

Dogs became useful herders, sled pullers & guards against predators & neighbouring human tribes and in a pinch ,they could have served as an emergency food supply( I know right, disgusting!! And this still continues, China hosts an annual dog eating festival, it’s simply horrendous!!! Join Avaaz , an organization which is striving to stop such atrocities throughout the world!!)

Dogs probably saved us more times than we can count & we’re paying them ,pups now have access to insurance , healthcare, some even have more Instagram followers than you or me! From a wolf mould, we’ve crafted over 340 or so dog breeds, even a few weird ones. It’s hard to believe that every domestic dog is still part of the same species, one whose story is so tightly wound to our own ,that we still can’t quite tell where it begins.

That’s it for today, I hope you liked today’s post. Till next time folks, Adios or as Scooby doo would say “Scooby Dobby dobby Doooooo” !!!

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