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Humans & Dogs: Cooperation / Co-Evolution / Domestication


Gone But Not Forgotten
May 15, 2002
As a dog owner and someone who lists evolutionary theory as a hobby (I should listen to my wife and get out more) I have been giving some thought to the relationship between humans and dogs. I am not aware of a major group of humans who don’t have domesticated dogs.

So what would prompt this tie up. The gene for fear of other species is being bred out of captive mink and enhanced by handling, the question is what possessed primitive humans (15,000 year ago by research posted last week) to capture and handle wolf pups. They then use them to help around the camp by chasing down game alerting to predators approaching at night etc.

While it is easy to see that both species benefit from this co-evolution is it crucial in the development of both species? Further research published also week indicates that man kind only spread into North America after the domestication of dogs, who may have been key in the extinction of the Siberia Hyena, which allowed us to cross the Baring Straight. If you look at humans as a mildly successful primate, spreading globally for tens of thousands of years (I’m unsure of human evolutionary timescales) and then fairly quickly we get art (10,000BC), agriculture (8000 BC) and civilisation (4500BC) all fairly quickly after the domestication of dogs. I’m not saying that we would not have made it without dogs, but I am saying that dogs could have given us that final edge over everything else that have led us to this position.

Obviously, humans with our appalling set of senses have these augmented by dogs and dogs can, with the help of humans, bring down much bigger game.

But there are other advantages, more subtle and indicative of much closer evolutionary ties between the two species. Dog owners live longer than non-dog owners (most likely due to all that walking), but the studies of taking dogs into old peoples homes and the reduction in blood pressure are more compelling and curious. Dog owners tend to be calmer people, again possibly due to the exercise. Being a dog owner does not make you kind however as well known dog owners from the past include Adolf Hitler and animal cruelty against dogs is common across the globe.

Just some thoughts on the co-evolution of two species that between them
have now conquered the world and allowed both of them to dominate a planet and achieve the aim of all species… unsupportable numbers.

Any comments?
tzb57r said:
If you look at humans as a mildly successful primate, spreading globally for tens of thousands of years (I’m unsure of human evolutionary timescales) and then fairly quickly we get art (10,000BC), agriculture (8000 BC) and civilisation (4500BC) all fairly quickly after the domestication of dogs

Any comments?


Depends what you mean by art?

Cave art at Lascaux was being produced 20,000 yrs BP, Carved bone and rock art is found thoughought the upper paleolithic (from C. 40,000BP)
Douglas Adams got it wrong. It isn't the white mice who are the most intelligent species and on who's behalf the Earth was built - it's dogs. In order to speed up the programme to determine the question to the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything the dogs manipulated the human's intelligence, gave them art, argriculture etc. And what did humans then do in return for the hyper-intelligent pan-galatic dogs? We knitted them silly little tartan 'coast' to wear in winter......
Depends whether you look at dog domestication as a deliberate, purposeful action or as a happening. I think that wolves would always have found human encampments attractive for scavenging of food (or leftover people!). The oppurtunity for pups to then become imprinted on people (say after the death of a mother near the camp) increases with proximity to humans. Then once wolves become accepted around the community there will be breeding/selection and so on.
i think the deliberate domestication of captured wolf cubs would require a large amount of foresight and information that would probably not be available by any means. -Who would think that breeding wolves together that were known to be more docile than others would lead to an animal that was safe around people. We only understand the principles of artificial selection after the example of dogs/cats/etc.
To suggest that early man understood what the eventual outcome of his attempts at wolf breeding would be seems a bit much.
especially considering that many modern day people still find evolution, natural selection and artificial selection too much to cope with (creationists)
There was a long & fascinating article in the Grauniad about this a few years ago.

The idea was that humans domesticated dogs, who helped them in hunting and thus procured plentiful meat. This meat provided protein to pregnant women whose babies' brains were super-nourished and grew faster and bigger than those of previous generations. So humans literally became 'cleverer' because of their involvement with doggies.

Archaeology can apparently pinpoint the times of these two ongoing events and they seem to coincide correctly.

Humans and dogs have a very special relationship- they co-exist and mutually benefit almost as family members. My money's on the mutt.

New research points to East Asia as point of canine origin

The Associated Press
Nov. 22, 2002
Somewhere in or near China about 15,000 years ago, a few docile gray wolves hit upon a good idea: Instead of tiring themselves out on the hunt all day, why not hang around the campfire of humans and pick up scraps of food there? Hunter-gatherer tribes were happy to have the wolves around, perhaps as guards or hunting companions, so long as they didn't act too wolflike.
After many generations, a new breed of gray wolf emerged, a gentle race that could prosper only in human company. And prosper it did, traveling with human friends from its Asian homeland all the way to South America and Europe within a few thousand years.
That could be the early history of the dog, according to scientists who are beginning to draw a detailed picture of the time when humankind's best friend was first befriended. To the delight of dog lovers, the emerging picture puts dogs on center stage during many milestones of human prehistory, from the formation of settlements to the great post-Ice Age migrations.
A new piece of the picture came in today's issue of the journal Science, in which researchers suggested that the dog may have originated in East Asia, rather than Europe or the Middle East as commonly assumed. A second article in Science said genetic evidence showed dogs colonized the New World together with humans, trotting their way across the land bridge to Alaska some 12,000 years ago.
"Dogs must have played some essential role in these early human societies," says Robert Wayne, a biology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and co-author of the second paper. "Dogs are a nice companion but an expensive companion. They eat meat. Humans were willing to pay the price."
Both of the Science papers confirm the results of earlier research that the various breeds of dogs today are virtually identical in genetic terms both to each other and to wild gray wolves, despite their vastly different appearances. Studies of domesticated animals have shown that a few small genetic modifications can have broad effects. Domesticated animals, including dogs, tend to retain a more juvenile appearance and develop features such as floppy ears and tails that are rarely found in the wild.
Humans and gray wolves have shared habitats and hunting grounds for millennia, but scientists generally agree they began to get serious about their relationship roughly 15,000 years ago, when some humans were beginning to establish settlements. It's not clear who made the first overture, but in recent years dog experts have favored the wolf. For wolves that were good scavengers and relatively docile, taking up with humans might have been a good survival strategy.
"I think dogs initiated the movement into those villages," says Raymond Coppinger, a biology professor at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and author of a recent book on dog history. Dr. Coppinger scoffs at romantics who imagine early humans taking in cute wolf pups. "I'm not sure that Mesolithic people could go down to the drugstore and buy a rubber nipple," he says.
Why didn't humans drive the early dogs away? Perhaps the animals were useful trash collectors. Soon, though, humans must have realized that dogs could help out as camp guards, hunters and beasts of burden. People might have used dogs for food, too. The uses are so manifold that many scientists have long assumed the domestication of dogs happened independently many times around the world.
Not so, according to the new research led by Peter Savolainen at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Dr. Savolainen examined mitochondrial DNA from 654 dogs world-wide in an attempt to determine their origin. His data show the most genetic diversity among dogs in East Asia, suggesting domestication happened there first. In this view, all dogs today descend from East Asian dogs who traveled across the continents with humans. Dr. Savolainen says it's plausible to assume that a single group of people living around 15,000 years ago initiated the domestication.
That conclusion is controversial; critics say Dr. Savolainen's team didn't test enough European and Middle Eastern dogs to say with certainty that diversity there is lower. Still, the mention of East Asia is a surprising twist and is likely to lead scientists to ask why that might have been a plausible location for the first domestication. Dr. Savolainen says it may be because East Asian gray wolves are smaller and more easily domesticated.
Zhang Yaping, a researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology in China who collaborated on Dr. Savolainen's study, thinks East Asia might have been a hotbed of domestication at the time. He is also examining the genetic roots of pigs, chickens, cattle and yak. "Domestication is one of the important factors in the transition to a farming society," Dr. Zhang says.
Wherever dogs got their start, it's clear they hit it off with humans quickly. Within a historical eye-blink, dogs spread across the planet. That's shown in a second paper in Science that illuminates the history of dogs in the Americas. Jennifer Leonard, a UCLA geneticist in Dr. Wayne's lab, and colleagues in the U.S. and Latin America tested mitochondrial DNA from modern dogs as well as from the bones of 37 dog specimens from archeological sites in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia.
Their conclusion: When humans first entered the Americas 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, they brought dogs with them. The genetic data show that ancient American dogs resembled their Eurasian counterparts and didn't appear to have come from American gray wolves. The study also suggests that Native American dogs were wiped out after Europeans and their dogs arrived in the New World.

15000 yrs ago, Modern Humans were just that, Modern Humans.

Anatomically modern humans first appeared on the scene some 200,000 yrs ago, so i doubt very much that dogs have in the slightest influenced our physical evolution. no doubt they have had an impact on human culture and soociety, maybe even Technology.
Humans and dogs

How Did Dogs Become Adept at Playing to Humans?

Brian Handwerk
for Ultimate Explorer
February 6, 2004

Dog lovers know that man's best friend has an uncanny ability to understand and react to human actions. Clues to how dogs came to develop this ability lie somewhere in their evolutionary past, and learning the answer could shine light on our own development as humans.

Harvard Anthropologist Brian Hare's journey into canine cognition began with a study of human development. "I was interested in how humans develop cognitive skills,' he told National Geographic News.. "What is it that allows us read social cues and understand communicative gestures?"

Seemingly simple cognitive tasks like following the gaze of another human or responding to pointing and other gestures are easily taken for granted. But Hare explains that such skills precipitate a domino effect that enables humans to learn many things about the world.

To determine if other animals shared such important abilities, Hare tested a close human relative—the chimpanzee. He alternately placed food in one of two identical cups, but unlike the infamous 'shell game,' he attempted to help the animals locate the food by tapping, pointing to, or simply gazing at the correct cup. The result? "The great apes are really good at lots of other things, but in this type of cooperation and communication exercise they really struggled," he said.

But almost by accident another test subject appeared. "I said hey, I bet my dog can do this," Hare recalled. "It's the same reaction many people would have. It was not a surprise to anybody but scientists."

Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) performed exceptionally well at the same tests that stymied the chimps. But the question was why, and why did most other animals struggle?

Special Abilities May Have Genetic Roots

The most obvious answer is that dogs live and interact with humans and are simply conditioned through human exposure. But subsequent tests cast doubt on the theory.

"We tested puppies," Hare said. "We tested litter-reared pups who had very, very little exposure to humans and compared the results to age-matched pups that had lived in families since birth and were taking obedience classes. There was no difference."

Another possible explanation is that canids naturally have such abilities, which developed from pack hunting or their own social structure. That theory was put to the test by the dog's closest relative—the wolf (Canis lupus). Many scientists believe that all dogs originated from a population of wolves that lived in China between 40,000 and 15,000 years ago.

Ádám Miklósi led a group of researchers at Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary who conducted the "shell game" tests on wolves. The test wolves were raised by humans and socialized to a comparable level as their dog counterparts. But although they could follow some signals, the wolves could not perform to the level of dogs.

Miklósi's test also included an important second step. He presented the animals with an unsolvable problem—a bowl of food that was impossible to access. The team found that while wolves continued to work at the unsolvable problem for long periods, dogs quickly looked at the humans for help.

"Based on these observations, we suggest that the key difference between dog and wolf behavior is the dogs' ability to look at the human's face," Miklósi summarized in Current Biology. "Since looking behavior has an important function in initializing and maintaining communicative interaction in human communication systems, we suppose that by positive feedback processes (both evolutionary and ontogenetically) the readiness of dogs to look at the human face has led to complex forms of dog-human communication that cannot be achieved in wolves even after extended socialization."

If these two relatives can't relate equally to people, how did a dog/wolf split allow dogs to develop superior people skills? That question led Hare to Siberia, where scientists are continuing a running evolutionary experiment that's decades old.

Fox Study Poses Tantalizing Questions

In 1959, the late Dimitri Balyaev and his colleagues began domesticating foxes. Since that time a population of foxes has been selectively bred on one factor alone—their behaviour towards humans. Foxes who approached humans at a seven-month-old trial meeting were allowed to breed, while others who appeared afraid or aggressive were disqualified. After 20 generations the population began showing many signs of domestication, such as approaching humans and even wagging their tails and barking at the approach of a human. The animals are currently domesticated enough to serve as house pets.

But the selection has affected more than behaviour. The foxes, like many domestic animals, began to exhibit curly tails, floppy ears, and smaller tooth and bone size—though none of these were selection criteria.

Could cognition be a breeding by-product like these physical changes? Hare hopes to explore the question by testing the foxes.

"The critical thing is that they did not select for cognition, only for niceness," he explained. "I have no idea how dogs became dogs; There are stories but not hard facts. But I know exactly how these foxes became they way that they are. So those kind of test results could help us figure out—is it that you must have selection for intelligence to be smart, or could it result from selection on other factors like behavior towards humans?"

"Just as you have accidental byproducts like curly tails and floppy ears, could you become smarter as an accidental byproduct of selection on niceness?"

While he looks forward to continuing his research with dogs and foxes, Hare also enjoys pondering the question's potential implications for humans.

"Many anthropologists think that as humans evolved we became smart because it's good to be smart," he said. "But maybe it was selection on what scientists and breeders call temperament. "Maybe nice people eventually became smarter, rather than smart people becoming nice."

Brian Hare examines the human/dog relationship with Ultimate Explorer correspondent Mireya Mayor on Love Those Dogs, premiering Sunday, February 8, at 8 p.m ET/PT on MSNBC. Mayor also explores doggie yoga and spas, goes on a beat with hardworking police dogs, and investigates the dark side of the purebred puppy market.

"Just as you have accidental byproducts like curly tails and floppy ears, could you become smarter as an accidental byproduct of selection on niceness?"

curses, my secret revealed.... :D

kath stonedoggy
Didnt Konrad Lorenz mention this? I dont think he went into much detail though.
Fantastic article.

A friend of mine's dog was very clever. If she needed a wee she'd pick up her green ball if she wanted to play she'd pick up her red.

What makes certain breeds better than others at different things? For example why are the majority of guide dogs for the blind labradors, sniffer dogs alsations and spaniels etc.

Or is it just habit that give these breeds the jobs?
Habit, I think.

Most Guide dogs are labrador/retriever crosses for the record. some are purebred labs/retrievers, others are alsatians.

I think they experimented with collies but found they had too much of a herding instinct, not a leading.

Guide dogs in other countries may be different, in Japan a lot are Akitas (a multipurpose breed if there ever was one)

Just out of curiosity, wasnt the tracking record held for a while (if its not still) by a doberman?? I seem to recall it was under desert conditions though....
When I was learning sign language my teacher had a mad rat type thing who was her hearing dog. It seemes though most dogs can be trained to be hearing dogs just as long as they have a modicom of intelliegnce, where as guide dogs seem to be labradors.

Wasn't a new breed invented? A labradoodle (labrador/poodle cross) which was like an updated version for the guide dog. Less clumsy, less hairy and not so many breeding problems. I don't think it ever caught on even though there were rumblings about it being recognised by the Kennal Club.
Certain breeds have been breed with certain attributes in mind. I think they choose Labs for the simple fact that they are easy to train. Terriers on the other hand while extremely smart are notoriously willfull and stubborn. Of course my Grandpa could just about get any animal to do anything. My in-laws had a Boston terrier that you could tell to go and get specific toys and she would. And they weren't layed out in a line either all of her toys were thrown in a basket and she had many. You could say get the toy with the big eyes or get the blue ball and she would. But she would bark constantly and noone could get her to stop.
What amazes me about dogs is their capacity to understand words. They soon know what 'walkies' etc means, and can pick up alternative code words if we try to disguise our intentions.

My dogs know just about every synonym for 'business' as we walk them at the business park and to avoid exciting them we have to resort to calling it the place of commerce, the bureaucratic extended institution, etc etc.... They can even tell when we are trying hard not to mention anything about it, and know that the word 'private' means 'none of your...' and so on. :D

So dogs understanding words- what's that about then?
No, no, no!

They're taking completely the wrong approach.

The simple fact is, that dogs can read minds.

Whether or not they can understand our minds is another matter.

It actually looks like the time scale has been expanded (those early results were greated with scepticism):

Posted on Fri, Feb. 13, 2004

Dogs Likely Originated in Asia


Associated Press

SEATTLE - From Yorkshire terriers the size of a teacup to Irish wolfhounds near the size of a small pony, all dogs originated from a single species, probably an East Asian wolf seeking the warmth of the human hearth and an easy meal.

"We think there was a series of domestication events in East Asia," said Norine E. Noonan, a dog researcher at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. "It happened a lot longer ago than anybody once thought - at least 100,000 years ago."

Probably, there was a set of "dog Eves," a central proto-dog that adopted humans as a protector, provider and best friend. In return, the early wolf-like animals helped humans hunt, Noonan said Friday.

She and other scientists gave a report on the status of dog research at the national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Based on genetic research, said Deborah Lynch of the Canine Studies Institute in Aurora, Ohio, "there were only about a half dozen domestication events in East Asia."

After that, dogs followed where humans went, migrating to the Americas, for instance, when people did.

"Domesticated dogs are much older than we once thought," said Lynch. "They literally walked out of the caves with us."

Somewhere along the way, humans learned they could breed dogs for particular jobs. Mating two fast dogs produced young that were also fast. The same was true for dogs that could dig, herd animals, hunt or attack humans.

Eventually, the experts said, the dog became the most variable animal on Earth in terms of shape, size and color. There are now more 300 recognized species, ranging from the very small Japanese Chin to the monster St. Bernard.

The various breeds look the way they do because sometime in the distant past humans wanted a dog for specific service to people, said Lynch.

"For instance, that's why guard dogs are always a dark color," she said. "There is almost always a functional reason for why dogs look the way they do."

Living with humans and sharing the environment for thousands of years also caused dogs to develop some of the same genetic health problems, from cancer to night blindness. Cancer, a major killer of elderly humans, is now the leading cause of death for dogs over the age of 10.

"In the company of man, dogs may have been under very similar pressures, and that may have given rise to similar diseases," said Gordon Lark, a canine genetic researcher at the University of Utah.

For that reason, humans are once more finding a new job for dogs __ as test animals for learning about human diseases. Dogs are becoming the new laboratory rat.

"The dog genome is much closer to the human genome than is the mouse," said Lark. "It will be a better model."

To further that purpose, researchers are now sequencing the dog genome. A rough genetic map has already been assembled for the poodle. One for the boxer is expected to be finished in April.

From this, researchers hope to learn the genetic basis for many diseases that affect both dogs and humans.

"Dogs offer a new window on the influence of genes on disease," said Lynch. The result may be better health for both dogs and humans, she said.

Lynch said the studies focus on conditions from narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder that affects Dobermans, to a type of night blindness that occurs in other species.

Noonan said researchers also hope to locate genes that cause some dogs to be more aggressive than others. For instance, she said, the aggressiveness of one breed of mountain dog was traced back to two animals that were imported into the United States.

If genes for such behavior can be found, it may be possible to genetically manipulate a breed to remove undesirable behavior from some breeds of dog.

It won't solve all the problems of dog ownership, however.

"I don't think there's a gene for peeing on the floor or chewing up shoes," said Lynch.


[edit: The thing is, of course, that there possibly weren't modern humans in East Asia until around 80,000 years or later although there might have been - there were some in West Asia at that time so.......]


(Thought I posted this yesterday - must have forgotten to click SUBMIT!)

A well-known view in Falmouth: but the odd thing is, these figureheads really seem to spook dogs, who often bark hysterically at them!

The big one, Amy (from the ship "Amazon") is well above life-size, and admittedly no beauty. The smaller one is from the schooner "Volant", and dogs don't notice it so often, presumably because they mostly have their noses to the ground, sniffing around, but when they do see it they react the same.

Do dogs react to other statues or human figures this way? I shall have to observe canine behaviour more carefully next time we get 'living statue' performers in town.
Hahahaha Ryn, you're photo-posting mad now! :lol:

There used to be a couple of those horses' head post ornaments in a street near me and every dog which passed them barked fiercely. This amused me but it seems not the householders, who removed them after a few weeks.
Is this a shaggy dog story?

Wolves make dog's dinner out of domestication theory
by Ewen Callaway


Dogs are no better than wolves at picking up on human cues. That's the conclusion of animal psychologists who have compared the ability of the wolves and dogs to understand human hand signals.

When tasked with choosing between two paint cans based on a trainer's hand signal, tamed wolves actually proved more adept at picking the right can.

This casts doubt on the idea that domestication some 15,000 years ago imbued dogs with a window into the human mind, says Clive Wynne, an animal psychologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Rather, dogs – and tamed wolves – probably learn to associate human arm movements with treats, play and affection. Researchers who argue for a dog "theory of mind" are overlooking this obvious explanation, Wynne says.

"I think what's going on here is straightforward conditioning," he says. "Have they forgotten about Pavlov?"

Clever wolves
Wynne's study is a rebuttal to a string of headline-grabbing papers that used similar approaches to demonstrate that dogs read humans better than wolves, and even chimpanzees. He says those reports used different environments and conditions for tests on wolves and dogs.

To level the playing field, Wynne – along with UFL colleagues Monique Udell and Nicole Dorey – worked with tame wolves that have received near constant human exposure since birth. The researchers also tested both wolves and dogs under the same conditions: with familiar trainers and in outdoor enclosures.

Standing 2.5 meters from an animal, a trainer signalled one of two sand-filled paint cans placed on either side of the trainer. If the animal moved toward the correct can, it received a treat and heard a click.

Wolves picked the right pail about seven times out of 10, on average, while dogs tested under identical conditions did slightly better than chance.

Dogs that performed the same test in their homes, though, equalled the wolves' performance, while shelter dogs picked the correct pail in only three of every 10 attempts.

Learned tricks
Rather than argue for a wolf theory of mind, Wynne says animal learning explains his team's results.

"These limbs of the human have been useful to pay attention to. In the past they have delivered good things," he says. "Every time you throw a ball for a puppy you are offering your limb as a conditioned stimulus."

While domestication has made dogs more trainable, it hasn't offered them insight into our wants and needs, he says. "Any idiot can tame a dog. If you want to have a tame wolf, you're going to have to invest much, much more energy."

However, Brian Hare, an animal behaviourist at Duke University in Durham North Carolina and author of several studies pointing to a dog theory of mind, isn't yet ready to concede.

"I think there is so much data from other labs pointing to the previous finding of dogs being unusually skilled at using human cues that it will take extraordinary findings to argue against it," he says.

"I would not yet say these are extraordinary in terms of being conclusive, but they do suggest that we need to take another close look."

Journal reference: Animal Behaviour (DOI: 10.1016/j.anabehav.2008.07.028)

Related Articles

Foxes make better dogs than wolves do
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns? ... 524865.400
12 February 2005

Mind of a dog
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns? ... 522284.300
04 March 2000

Dogs 'evolved from handful of wolves'
22 November 2002


Clive Wynne, University of Florida

Brian Hare, Duke University
Origin of Domestic Dogs
New analysis suggests that domestic dogs evolved from European wolves that interacted with human hunter-gatherers.
http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles. ... stic-Dogs/

By Ed Yong | November 14, 2013

Gray wolf

Domestic dogs evolved from a group of wolves that came into contact with European hunter-gatherers between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago and may have since died out.

This origin story comes from a new study that compares DNA from dozens of dogs and wolves, including 18 ancient fossils. The results, published today (November 14) in Science, provide the clearest picture yet of where, when, and how wild predators came to be man’s best friend.

“It really is a sea change from the little bits of fragmentary DNA that have been reported in the past,” said Gregor Larson from Durham University in the U.K., who was not involved in the study. “It includes really old material from a wide range of sites.”

The new paper follows two earlier studies that looked at the genetic signatures of domestication in dogs, and came to differing conclusions about canine origins. One group suggested that dogs were domesticated around 10,000 years ago during the Agricultural Revolution, when wolves started scavenging human scrap heaps. Another concluded that wolves and dogs split 32,000 years ago, somewhere in East Asia.

Both studies compared the genes of a wide variety of living dogs and wolves, but modern samples can be deceptive. Dogs and wolves diverged so recently that many of their genes have not had time to separate into distinct lineages. They have also repeatedly hybridized with each other, further confusing their genealogies.

To deal with these problems, a team led by Olaf Thalmann from the University of Turku in Finland analyzed mitochondrial DNA from 18 fossil canids. They compared these ancient sequences to those from 49 modern wolves and 77 modern dogs, and built a family tree that charts their relationships.

The tree conclusively pinpointed Europe as the major nexus of dog domestication. It identified four clades of modern dogs, which are all most closely related to ancient European canids rather than wolves from China or the Middle East. “We didn’t expect the ancestry to be so clearly defined,” Thalmann told The Scientist.

“This suggests that the population of wolves in Europe that gave rise to modern dogs may have gone extinct, which is plausible given how humans have wiped out wolves over the centuries,” he added.

According to this new tree, the largest clade of domestic dogs last shared a common ancestor 18,800 years ago, and collectively, they last shared a common ancestor with a wolf around 32,100 years ago. They must have been domesticated at some point during this window.

These molecular dates fit with fossil evidence. The oldest dog fossils come from Western Europe and Siberia, and are thought to be at least 15,000 years old. By contrast, those from the Middle East and East Asia are believed to be 13,000 years old, at most. “The archaeologists would be happy,” said Larson.

The dates also make it unlikely that dogs were domesticated during the Agricultural Revolution, which took place millennia later. Instead, they must have first associated with European hunter-gatherers. They may have assisted humans in bringing down large prey, or could simply have scavenged leftover carcasses. Either way, their association with humans grew stronger and stronger, until they eventually evolved into domestic dogs.

However, Thalmann acknowledged that his team’s analysis does not include any ancient DNA from the Middle East or China, nor nuclear DNA from any of the fossils. In other ancient DNA studies, nuclear DNA sequences have revised the evolutionary stories told by mitochondrial ones.

“Who knows what we would find if we had ancient canid samples from East Asia or elsewhere, or were successful in amplifying nuclear DNA from ancient canids,” said Adam Boyko from Cornell University, who was not involved in the study, via email. “But that shouldn't detract from the great work they were able to do here,” he added.

Larson cautioned that the paper is not the final word on canine origins. “It would be a mistake to jump and say that dogs were domesticated in Europe and not anywhere else,” he said. “We know pigs were domesticated independently in China and Turkey, so there’s no thinking that dog domestication had to happen in just one place.”

Indeed, Thalmann’s team showed that the famous Goyet dog—a 36,000 year old Belgian skull, supposedly belonging to the oldest known dog—is not directly ancestral to modern dogs. Instead, it represents an ancient sister lineage that died out. The same is true for other old specimens from Belgium and Russia’s Altai Mountains. “Maybe they were trial domestications that were not successful,” said Thalmann.

O. Thalmann et al., “Complete mitochondrial genomes of ancient canids suggest a European origin of domestic dogs,” Science, doi:10.1126/science.1243650, 2013.
Full text, maps & image at link.

Domestication of dogs may explain mammoth kill sites and success of early modern humans

A fragment of a large bone, probably from a mammoth, Pat Shipman reports, was placed in this dog's mouth shortly after death. This finding suggests the animal was according special mortuary treatment, perhaps acknowledging its role in mammoth hunting. The fossil comes from the site of Predmosti, in the Czech republic, and is about 27,000 years B.P. old. This object is one of three canid skulls from Predmosti that were identified as dogs based on analysis of their morphology. Credit: Anthropos Museum, Brno, the Czech Republic, courtesy of Mietje Germonpre

A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led Penn State Professor Emerita Pat Shipman to formulate a new interpretation of how these sites were formed. She suggests that their abrupt appearance may have been due to early modern humans working with the earliest domestic dogs to kill the now-extinct mammoth—a now-extinct animal distantly related to the modern-day elephant. Shipman's analysis also provides a way to test the predictions of her new hypothesis. Advance publication of her article "How do you kill 86 mammoths?" is available online through Quaternary International.

Spectacular archaeological sites yielding stone tools and extraordinary numbers of dead mammoths—some containing the remains of hundreds of individuals—suddenly became common in central and eastern Eurasia between about 45,000 and 15,000 years ago, although mammoths previously had been hunted by humans and their extinct relatives and ancestors for at least a million years. Some of these mysterious sites have huts built of mammoth bones in complex, geometric patterns as well as piles of butchered mammoth bones.

"One of the greatest puzzles about these sites is how such large numbers of mammoths could have been killed with the weapons available during that time," Shipman said. Many earlier studies of the age distribution of the mammoths at these sites found similarities with modern elephants killed by hunting or natural disasters, but Shipman's new analysis of the earlier studies found that they lacked the statistical evaluations necessary for concluding with any certainty how these animals were killed.

Domestication of dogs may explain mammoth kill sites and success of early modern humans

These maps show the locations of collections of mammoth bones at the archaeological sites that Pat Shipman analyzed in her paper that will be published in the journal Quaternary International. Credit: Jeffrey Mathison
Surprisingly, Shipman said, she found that "few of the mortality patterns from these mammoth deaths matched either those from natural deaths among modern elephants killed by droughts or by culling operations with modern weapons that kill entire family herds of modern elephants at once." This discovery suggested to Shipman that a successful new technique for killing such large animals had been developed and its repeated use over time could explain the mysterious, massive collections of mammoth bones in Europe.

The key to Shipman's new hypothesis is recent work by a team led by Mietje Germonpré of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, which has uncovered evidence that some of the large carnivores at these sites were early domesticated dogs, not wolves as generally had been assumed. Then, with this evidence as a clue, Shipman used information about how humans hunt with dogs to formulate a series of testable predictions about these mammoth sites. ...
http://phys.org/news/2014-05-domesticat ... ss.html#ms
More on Predmosti, dogs and mammoth kills.

P?edmostí I is an exceptional prehistoric site located near Brno in the Czech Republic. Around 30,000 years ago it was inhabited by people of the pan-European Gravettian culture, who used the bones of more than 1000 mammoths to build their settlement and to ivory sculptures. Did prehistoric people collect this precious raw material from carcasses -- easy to spot on the big cold steppe -- or were they the direct result of hunting for food? This year-round settlement also yielded a large number of canids remains, some of them with characteristics of Palaeolithic dogs. Were these animals used to help hunt mammoths?

To answer these two questions, Tübingen researcher Hervé Bocherens and his international team carried out an analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in human and animal fossil bones from the site. Working with researchers from Brno and Brussels, the researchers were able to test whether the Gravettian people of P?edmostí ate mammoth meat and how the "palaeolithic dogs" fit into this subsistence picture ...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 074841.htm
And now domesticated wolves as guard "dogs".

Villagers in Kazakhstan are increasingly turning to an unusual animal to guard their land - wolves, it's been reported.

"You can buy a wolf cub for just $500 (£320), they say, and hunters are adamant that if treated well the wild animal can be tamed," the KTK television channel reports. Nurseit Zhylkyshybay, from the south-eastern Almaty region, tells the channel he bought a wolf cub, Kurtka, from hunters three years ago, and the animal is perfectly happy wandering the yard of his house. "He's never muzzled, I rarely put him on a chain and do take him for regular walks around the village. Our family and neighbours aren't scared of him at all," Mr Zhylkyshybay insists. "If the wolf is well fed and cared for, he won't attack you, although he does eat a lot more than a dog." ...

Not sure I envy the scientist charged with displaying the body language to the wolves.
That guard wolf is just part wolf at best, you can tell by the features like the eyes, they are typical dog eyes not wolf eyes.
And the dogs followed later.

Study of ancient dogs in the Americas yields insights into human, dog migration
January 7, 2015

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A new study suggests that dogs may have first successfully migrated to the Americas only about 10,000 years ago, thousands of years after the first human migrants crossed a land bridge from Siberia to North America.

I would hazard a guess that the domesticated cat has been around for much longer.... they are never ones to miss an opportunity...