Human Evolution, Dogs and Dingos

Dingo

The records on dogs and human evolution show that we domesticated wolves with inter-breeding. Modern-day dogs emerged over a span of 15,000 years.

Dogs and people formed a mutually beneficial relationship. While humans provided dogs with food and shelter, dogs were useful for hunting mammals. Furthermore, their sensitive ears and keen sense of smell could warn humans about predators.

According to an 2013 article in The Economist, dog fossils from the Americas date  back between 1,000 and 8,500 years ago. These early dogs share their evolution with modern canines. Dogs may have accompanied the first continental inhabitants 15,000 years ago. [1]

Humans have bred dogs for specific purposes such as retrieving, hunting, and protection. This relationship was mutually beneficial because dogs also enjoyed the protection and care from prehistoric humans. Our natural reaction to puppies likely facilitated the close contact between ourselves and canines. The dogs with traits that were compatible with human preferences were more likely to be selected for further breeding [2].

However, there’s one dog which evolution missed and does not belong to a breed.

Dingoes are not a breed

The dingo has a different record in the research on evolution. It was not selectively bred from its wolf ancestors. Dingos are just as much wolf as they are dog. They were introduced to Australia around 3000 to 5000 years ago. These reddish-colored dogs live alone or roam in packs of up to 10 animals. They travel over wide terrain and communicate to each other with wolf-like howls.

People who own dingos report that they are high-maintenance. Dingos don’t like being left alone and greetings must be filled with petting and playing. They will become upset if owners don’t lavish attention on them. Dingos do not adapt well to change, so having a permanent home over their long life span is essential.

Having a dingo as a pet is a full time responsibility. They will have difficulty recovering from being placed in a new home. Because they have a long life-span of 18-20 years, families lucky enough to own a dingo must be willing to make a lasting commitment.

Sources

[1] “The company of wolves; canine evolution”. (2013, Nov 16). The Economist, 409, 82-n/a.

[2] Nogueira, F. (2017). Canine Cognition: Did Dogs Become Smarter Through Domestication? An Interview with Dr. Brian Hare (Vol. 22, pp. 6): Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine.

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