Domestication: Wolf To Woof

Wolf To Dog

Over half of America has at least one pet dog living with them. Tens of thousands of years ago, these friendly pet dogs we keep in our houses, who we often call a man’s best friend, used to be wild gray wolves that might even kill humans.

Chances are that the domestication of wolves wasn’t intentional, but nothing is fully proven and agreed on by all scientists. Most likely, twenty-thousand to forty-thousand years ago, some wolves began lurking around humans and eating their leftovers. Their lives got easier, and this behavior got passed on to future generations, and they eventually evolved into dogs.

Dogs have personalities. They all enjoy playing and having fun with their owners or other dogs, even completely different animal species, unlike other wild animals that become too concerned with survival to have time for fun.

They also happen to have facial and expressions, and they can understand what we say. Domestication caused wolves’ faces to change, now making it easier to tell what face a dog is making. Gestures such as tail wagging also indicate that the dog is happy, and there are many other gestures dogs do to communicate with humans.

Recreating This Event

Around sixty years ago, Russian zoologist Dmitry Belyaev attempted an experiment. He bred together the tamest and calmest silver foxes he could find, the ones that responded most to humans. He aimed to replicate what happened to dogs but with foxes.

Svetlana Argutinskaya, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

It was a success. In a few generations, the appearance of the tail and other body parts of the fox began to change. Their ears became floppier, their fur had more spots, and the tail became smaller and took on a more curled position.

But that wasn’t the biggest change in them. All the foxes, even the full-grown adults, began to develop dog-like behaviors, demanding attention, licking humans’ faces, and wagging their tails whenever scientists approached them or when they were happy.

Any Animal?

Humans didn’t domesticate cats, they domesticated themselves. Household cats’ ancestors traveled from Asia to Europe nearly ten thousand years ago. They mingled near farming areas and communities, eating mice. Relationships between humans and those cats grew.

Animals aren’t just domesticated for pets. Farm animals, such as cows, chickens, and pigs are domesticated for food. Work animals, animals trained to do labor for humans, are also domesticated. Examples of these include horses and camels.

But we can’t domesticate all animals. They have to be docile, often breeding in captivity, grow fast, live in herds for easy human control, can’t run away when surprised, and have to have a plant-based diet for easy feeding. This unfortunately means you can’t have a lion as a pet. ★

Thank you for reading this article.

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