Dogs At The Dawn Of Mankind

Tens of thousands of years ago, both humans and Neanderthals walked the Earth.  Humans, obviously, survived.  Neanderthals — except to the extent they mated with humans and left their genes behind — didn’t. Why did one humanoid species thrive, and the other fail?

New theories posit that the domestication of dogs was a significant part of the secret to success for humans, because dogs helped humans procreate more rapidly and crowd the Neanderthals out.  Paleolithic excavations show significant interaction between humans and dogs, and even indicate that early humans engaged in ritualistic canine worship that included special burials of man’s best friend.  Dogs also helped hunting humans identify and take down their prey and served as beasts of burden, carrying packs as they accompanied their human masters.  All of this allowed humans to eat more, carry more supplies, and survive to reproduce.  Under the laws of natural selection, that gave the humans an ultimately dispositive advantage.

Although the linked article doesn’t mention it specifically, I imagine that the special emotional bond between humans and dogs also was an important part of the humans’ secret.  It’s not hard to imagine dogs helping to keep ancient humans warm at night, providing early warnings when predators approached, and giving the kind of happy companionship that makes people feel good — and makes life a bit more worth living.  It’s one reason why companion dogs have been so successful at hospitals and retirement homes.

It’s hard to imagine Penny and Kasey as pack animals for early hunter-gatherers, but they would have liked the canine worship part.

2 thoughts on “Dogs At The Dawn Of Mankind

  1. It’s is also postulated that as a result of the human/dog relationship, humans could sleep longer. Thus, allowing humanoids to thrive. The dogs provided an alarm prior to an attack of a wild beast or an enemy. Humans got a good night’s rest, because dogs were guarding…. Dogs are still the best “home security system.” Even my ADT representative said that!

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