Among the experts on the evolution of the modern domestic dog, there is a great deal of disagreement. Did the domestic dog evolve from the wolf? There is a body of evidence, archaeological in nature that shows us that in fact the modern domestic dog did evolve from the wolf (Canis lupus).
Some time around 15,000 years BCE (before current era – I’m getting too smart here), there were happenings in the environment which caused the two canine streams, Canis lupus and Canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog) to part company. Jus what these events were and exactly when they took place is the source of much debate.
Geneticists have undertaken studies which indicate that the domestication of the modern dog went through a number of stages and that these surges of domestication occurred between 100,000 years ago and present times. Archaeologists on the other hand are more firmly rooted to the opinion that domestication began between 35,000 and 15,000 years ago and were brought into effect through changes in human behaviour and lifestyle. As man began to develop permanent settlements and agricultural communities the wolf/dog precursor was domesticated to assist with guarding against predators and raiders.
Due to the process of domestication and selective breeding for different traits, the modern wolf and domestic dog show a number of physical and behavioural dissimilarities. This raises the issue for some experts in the field to disavow the ‘descent from the wolf’ theory. However, there are certain behaviours which are common to both canine families that strengthen the case for a common ancestry.
One study undertaken by Eric Zimen, a wolf biologist, recorded a number of specific behaviours, 362 in fact, that are displayed by wolves. He and his colleagues then studied poodles, yep you got it, poodles to determine the number of wolf like behaviours they replicated.
- 64% of the 362 wolf behaviours were demonstrated by the poodles with little or no changes
- 23% of wolf behaviours were still evident although strikingly modified
- 13% of wolf behaviours had disappeared altogether from the breed
Other differences were noted in domestic dogs, which include:
- 20% smaller skulls
- 10% smaller brains
- proportionately smaller jaws and teeth
- smaller ears
- smaller paws and
- the tail of a domestic dog can and does curl up (not a trait of the wolf)
Source of information: http://www.cosmosmith.com/wolf_links.html