The evolution of the domestic dog

Some recent published research shows just how far back goes man’s relationship with the domesticated dog!

First, a big thank you to Merci O. who originally sent me the link to the item that I will refer to later on.  But first, a recap as to the origins of this Blog Learning from Dogs.

Dr David Hawkins of Veritas Publishing, Sedona, Arizona.

Way back in 2007 I was working with a good friend of mine who lives in SW England who, professionally, makes good use of the philosophies of Dr. David Hawkins.  David Hawkins has written a number of books including Truth vs Falsehood: How to Tell the Difference which I read a few years ago and found very convincing.  Here’s how Amazon describes the book,

The exploration into the truth of man’s activities is unique, intriguing, and provocative. From a new perspective, one quickly grasps the levels of truth expressed by the media, the arts, writers, painters, architecture, movies, TV, politics, and war, as well as academia and the greatest thinkers and philosophies through the ages and up to present-day science and advanced theories of the nature of the universe. Most importantly, the ego and its structure are revealed to facilitate the understanding of religious and spiritual truths expressed by the mystics and enlightened sages over the centuries. It becomes apparent why the human mind, unaided, has been intrinsically incapable of discerning truth from falsehood. A simple test is described that, in seconds, can solve riddles that have been irresolvable by mankind for centuries. This book delivers far more than it promises.

Here’s the description of the book on David Hawkin’s website,

Reveals a breakthrough in documenting a new era of human knowledge. Only in the last decade has a science of Truth emerged that, for the first time in human history, enables the discernment of truth from falsehood. Presented are discoveries of an enormous amount of crucial and significant information of great importance to mankind, along with calibrations of historical events, cultures, spiritual leaders, media, and more.

A science of consciousness developed which revealed that degrees of truth reflect concordant calibratable levels of consciousness on a scale of 1 to 1,000. When this verifiable test of truth was applied to multiple aspects of society (movies, art, politics, music, sociology, religion, scientific theories, spirituality, philosophy, everyday Americana, and all the countries of the world), the results were startling.

Trust me, I am (slowly) getting to the point!

Dr. Hawkins created a ‘map’ of those calibrated levels of consciousness, see details of that map here.  Also, it wasn’t too difficult to find a plain B&W version on the Web, reproduced below.

As you can see when you study the map, the boundary between ‘truth’ and ‘falsehood’ is the calibrated level of 200, the blue line in the above described as ‘The beginning of integrity’.

Anyway, back to my psychotherapy friend, Jon, in SW England.  When I used to visit him, I always had Pharaoh with me and he would settle down behind my chair and let the human talk just flow over him, happy at some dog level to be included.

One day Jon was talking about the different levels on consciousness and looked over at Pharaoh asleep on the floor and said, “Do you that dogs are integrous!”  I responded that I didn’t know that, please tell me more.

Jon continued, “Yes, dogs have been calibrated as having a level of consciousness in the zone of 205 to 210.”

Wow!  What a revelation, that in a way didn’t strike me as foolish.  After 4 years of having Pharaoh as my companion, qualities such as unconditional love towards me, trust, courage, integrity and forgiveness were an obvious part of his character.  See where those levels and emotions appear on the map above.

Later back home, I was idly browsing domain names and saw that ‘learningfromdogs’ was available!  Little did I realise then that in September 2008, Pharaoh and I would move out to live with Jeannie and her 12 other dogs in San Carlos, Mexico and subsequently in February, 2010, all of us move to Payson, Arizona.  I started writing the Blog Learning from Dogs on July 15th, 2009 when still down in Mexico.

Still awake out there? 🙂

As part of my research into the domesticated dog in the early days of putting the Blog together, I explored the science behind the separation, or perhaps better described as the evolution, of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) from the wolf (Canis lupus). That the domesticated dog was originally a form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora.

As the website, Canine Science, explains,

The basic construction of the dog’s skeleton is the same, regardless of whether it is a Labrador Retriever, aBoxer or a Yorkshire Terrier.

The skeleton of a wolf is identical too.

The skeleton of the wolf.

It was clear that scientists were divided on when this happened.  Some argue it occurred 100,000 years ago, others that it was a far more recent development, closer to 15,000 years ago.   I wrote here under the heading of Dogs and Integrity,

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.  See an interesting article by Dr. George Johnson.

On the Home Page, I say,

Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years.  That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!

As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer.  Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming,  thence the long journey to modern man.

Those words were more of an instinctive assessment than based on hard science.  Now we have the science!

The link that Merci O. sent me was to a recent article on the website, AZ Central, and was headed,

Tamed dogs may go back 33,000 years

by Anne Ryman – Jan. 24, 2012 11:33 PM
The Republic |

Dogs have been “man’s best friend” longer than any other animal. And, as it turns out, longer than previously thought.

A pair of research papers published in the past few years, one most recently by a team that includes the University of Arizona, significantly pushes back the timeline for domestication of dogs from about 14,000 years ago to more than 30,000 years ago.

Researchers at UA and universities in England and the Netherlands used radiocarbon dating to determine that the skull of a Siberian dog was about 33,000 years old. Slightly older dog remains were identified in Belgium a few years ago by a separate research team.

The two findings indicate the process of domestication was occurring in separate regions at a time when early humans, including Neanderthals, in Europe and Siberia were small-group hunter-gatherers. About 14,000 years ago, Neanderthals were gone and humans were more mobile, living and hunting in larger groups.

The latest study’s co-author, UA professor Gregory Hodgins, said the finding broadens the timeline of humans interacting with the natural world. While humans have depended on animals since the dawn of the human species, domestication of animals indicates a symbiotic relationship between the two.

“It suggests living in close quarters and some sort of emotional bond,” he said.

Then just a couple of paragraphs later, came confirmation of my speculative position,

Before the most recent discoveries in Siberia and Belgium, the first signs of dog domestication appeared about 14,000 years ago. At some point, humans began relying on dogs for things like protection, hunting and companionship.

Dogs allowed humans to become a different, more effective predator, said Michael Barton, an Arizona State University anthropology professor who was not a co-author of either recent study. A dog’s keen sense of smell allowed humans to track animals better.

“They give us an edge,” he said.

The article closes,

The UA research on dogs was published recently in Public Library of Science One, a peer-reviewed journal. The team included scientists in Russia, Canada, England and the Netherlands. Research on the Belgian dog was published in 2008 in the Journal of Archeological Science.

It really is worth reading in full and a brilliant find by Merci.  It may be entirely the case that without dogs man could not have evolved beyond hunter-gatherers to farmers.

The oldest relationship of all!

2 thoughts on “The evolution of the domestic dog

  1. Paul:
    All very interesting and I learned things I did not know (such as Belgian and Siberian dogs). I always felt that the domestication of (Eurasiatic) wolves has got to have been due to Neanderthals: there were, there are, wild canids in Africa, and they are extremely smart and terrifying, unafraid of man (in national parks), but they were not domesticated.

    The more it goes, the more the story of the last 200,000 years, especially in Eurasia becomes ever more complex… In such a way that many of the old wisdoms are turned on their heads. There is no doubt that human directed evolution of species, starting with wolves, played a crucial role in the apparition of civilization.


    1. “the apparition of civilization” – wonderful turn of phrase! Somewhere in the past I came across something that explained that the DNA of the dog separated from the grey wolf around 100,000 years ago. Of course, when I went to find it for the above article, it had disappeared!

      But if that is the case then dogs go back a very large chunk of the time that H. sapiens has been on this planet. And if H. sapiens continues as it is going, dogs may well outlive our species!


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