Saturday, September 17, 2016

Man's Long Lasting Friend

Dogs in the modern day and age have been called man's best friend, but many forget that they have been our friends the longest out of all bred and domesticated animals throughout the history of the human race. A grad student from the United Kingdom, Angela Perri, has been trying to identify how dogs may have been used in the hunting techniques of early human civilization. While accompanying hunters near Hiroshima, Japan, she observed how dogs were used to hunt. Through warning the hunters when the boars were close, they protected the hunters from a blindsided boar charge and shed off time during the hunt with their senses Perri then began studying the companionship and found history of 110 dog burials in Japan.

Artwork of an Ancient Japanese Hunt with Dogs

The fact that the Japanese dogs were only revered in a time and place where they would have made ideal hunting companions strongly suggests that they did indeed play this role, Perri reports this week in Antiquity. She also points to a 2500-year-old bronze bell found on the cast coast of Honshy that contains an engraving believed to depict an event from even further in the past: a boar surrounded by a hunter and his pack of dogs.
Now she, along with other scientists are looking for evidence in dog evolution over time to see how they have been domesticated to be hunting companions. In the light of genetics, one would be able to look at the fossils left behind to see certain changes in gene expression over time of the structural changes that dogs went through during their domestication over thousands of years. This question along with what truly tamed the dogs still remains uncertain today.
Some think early human hunter-gathers actively tamed and bred wolves. Others say wolves domesticated themselves, by scavenging the carcasses left by human hunters, or loitering around campfires, growing tamer with each generation until they became permanent companions.
The importance of this discovery surpasses the idea that dogs are now our friends. It is important to identify the first human and dog relationships in order to fill in the gaps in our human history and development. Our manipulation of breeding and genetics of other animals could have affected our own evolution and development and how we grew and changed as human beings.

Regardless of the missing evidence that we have in modern time, I think that it is rational to believe that humans, in order to hunt better, domesticated dogs and bred them selectively to these capabilities. Having evidence such as a systematic dog burial obviously means that dogs were very important for humans to breed and befriend. Whether they were used for nursing, hunting, protection, or friendship, the dog was the first and one of the most important domestic animals to develop our human civilization and promote our survival.

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