Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why love a dog?

Why do some people form such a deep attachment to dogs and/or other animals? I came across a really interesting and well written article today that suggests our connection with animals is ancient and has been an important and significant driving force, defining the path of human evolution. Have a look at this: http://patshipman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/New-Scientist.pdf
This article suggests that the human-animal link makes sense of three of the most important leaps in human development – tool-making, language and domestication. It explains how developing an understanding of prey and predators was required to develop and make the most of tool-making skills. Prehistoric art from 50,000 years ago shows that understanding animals was the most important thing to the people that depicted them, and observing animals, compiling and sharing information was a strong impetus to developing language and communication. It suggests that the first domesticated thing was the dog, the earliest known dog skull is estimated to be 32,000 years old. Domesticated dogs may have provided hunting assistance, protection, and possibly even transport, and could live on animal remains that were not so desireable to humans (meaty bones and tripe!). In addition, domestic animals could be seen as a mobile source of wealth and personal power (and continue to be seen as such on the streets of cities today!). It is easy to see how important, beneficial and valued it would be to develop an understanding of how to keep them alive and well, of being able to communicate with them and control them, and of understanding how to change their genomes to enhance or diminish certain traits. All these things may have driven human evolutionary success and development. We probably owe dogs a great deal more than we realise! Food for thought.

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