neither-hunting-nor-company:-we-domesticated-the-dog-because-we-had-meat-left-over-in-the-ice-age

Neither hunting nor company: we domesticated the dog because we had meat left over in the Ice Age

Neither hunting nor company: we tamed the dog because we had meat left over in the Ice Age

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Neither hunting nor company: we tamed the dog because we had meat left over in the Ice Age

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Neither hunting nor company: we tamed the dog because we had meat left over in the Ice Age

As unlikely as it may seem according to some species, dogs, one day, were wild. The process of domestication of those primitive wolves that walked for the first time hand in hand with the human being is the subject of a very rich field of study. How and why did we get one of the main predators in our environment to appease its instincts and become one of our best allies? A new study has just outlined an unprecedented answer.

We had meat left over.

The job. It is signed by a team of archaeologists led by Maria Lahtinen and recently published in Scientific Reports. His thesis is striking: During the Ice Age, hunter-gatherer communities in the northern half of the planet ran into a surplus of meat. The hunt was prolific. However, not everything that was caught was consumed: those humans could not subsist solely on meat proteins, so they prioritized other dishes such as offal or fat. Lots of meat left over. And who could consume it until they were fed up?

The Wolves.

Coexistence. Lahtinen and other experts develop the idea in this article of Gizmodo: “In the short term and during the harshest winter months, wolves and humans would not have competed for the same resources, benefiting from each other’s company (…) This would have been critical to sustaining the early proto-dogs for years and generations”. In other words, the story of our long friendship with dogs arose, like so many other friendships, from a good banquet. To sit down to eat at the same table. As an idea it is suggestive.

Theories. The study thus negates other previously explored ideas about domestication. Namely, that it came for a mere utilitarian interest or that arose from the spontaneous interest of wolves in the remains of primitive human settlements. For Lahtinen, these are insufficient explanations: human waste was not so constant, nor would those hunter-gatherers have allowed the approach of a dangerous predator such as the wolf. Direct competition for our prey.

The relative abundance of meat during the Ice Age and the human inability to subsist solely on it caused our interests to fortuitously alienate. And that from then on, yes, we educate the wolf to hunt and accompany us. But not before.

Technological innovation. It is a theory and as such must be interpreted. Not long ago we talked about another different: the wolf It was domesticated as a “technological innovation” by humans, used not only to prey on small pieces, often hidden from the rudimentary weapons or nets of those societies, but also to digest large bones before our consumption. That study was based on the extensive archaeological evidence of a Jordanian settlement.

And more ideas. The range of possibilities is wide, the result of the natural unknowns generated by a gradual process dating back more than 14.11 years. Another hypothesis, also related to the ice ages: as the ice receded and the forest masses appeared, we humans adopted the wolf to chase and hunt increasingly elusive prey. Any of the three hypotheses speaks of a fascinating adaptation to the environment (of humans and wolves-dogs). One that has come down to our days.

Image: Tadeusz Lakota