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Dogs helped humans out-compete neanderthals

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,512 ✭✭✭ Ellis Dee


    It's highly speculative at best, but there just might be something to it. There are so many other things, so many technological innovations, behavioural adaptations, even evolution-induced physiological changes, and so on that could have given Cro-Magnons that little extra edge in competition for food and other resources at a time when climate change was making it more difficult for everyone.:cool:

    Morover, I have a problem with drawing such a sharp line between "Humans" and "Neanderthals". Both were members of the human family, albeit different branches. They had common ancestors and it is not at all to be ruled out that Neandnerthals and Cro-Magnons interbred and that thus some Neanderthal genes are in every one of us today.:)

    The jury is still out on that and a lot of other things.:)

    iban174l.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Well, "humans" is always shorter than "Homo sapiens" :D


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,741 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs


    I've been wittering on(and on) about this for quite a while... :o:D
    Ellis Dee wrote: »
    Morover, I have a problem with drawing such a sharp line between "Humans" and "Neanderthals".
    True. Indeed before around 60-40Kya there was little enough to tell them apart in what evidence they left us. Our lithic technologies varied, but both were equally efficient. We tended to range more than them. Culturally they may have had more abstract stuff like body adornment before us. It's starting to look that way in Europe at least. There wasn't much in it. Even physically we weren't that much different. Certainly early Sapiens had quite the brow ridges going on and our chin wasn't quite as developed and we were much more robust compared to today.
    They had common ancestors and it is not at all to be ruled out that Neandnerthals and Cro-Magnons interbred and that thus some Neanderthal genes are in every one of us today.:)
    Ruled in more like ED. We most certainly interbred. The evidence is in non African DNA today. I've personally got 4% Neandertal DNA goin on. It happened early on when we were living in the same area(the Levant) for many thousands of years. Interbreeding in Europe may have happened, but it left no evidence so far found, so was likely rare.

    Something was different in Europe. I would posit that among these somethings was the dog. The wolf/dog partnership changed the balance of power. The relative paucity of resources in Europe at various times likely made for more competition compared to the more abundant resources of the earlier Levant(it may have even driven the domestication innovation). This tends to make people more exclusive and more aware of differences. MY personal hunch is this is also what led to European having more diverse external characteristics than other populations.

    I'd go further and suggest the meme of domestication itself was one of our biggest if not the biggest "Killer app". Modern humans all over the world will go gaga at any baby animal you care to mention and will tame them if given half the chance. We take it as a given that baby animals are cute. This may actually be a novel mindset. Other apex predators have no problem killing and eating young animals, indeed often seek them out as they're easy pickings.

    I would suggest that this domestication meme had wide ranging effects and not just with dogs, but with ourselves. The wolf was an easy one. We're very similar in many ways. Both tend to move in wide ranges in largely family based groups and we both take down prey larger than ourselves. A wolf would be a good fit for us and we for them. Living in modern suburbia it would be a nightmare, but living as a hunter gatherer it would be pretty easy to merge goals and survival tactics.

    The effects of domestication are pretty consistent. They go beyond taming and cause actual genetic and physical changes in the domesticated animal(as the Russian arctic fox experiment showed). What's interesting is these very same changes are reflected in us modern humans. I would suggest as well as this domestication meme driving us into domesticating animals(primarily the wolf at first), we domesticated ourselves.

    So what are these changes? domesticated animals become more gracile, less robust, their midface/muzzles grow shorter, their dentition grows smaller, their bones grow less dense, the frontal areas/foreheads of their skulls grow larger, their colouration becomes more varied. Behaviourally they become more neotenous, IE they remain more juvenile throughout life, more playful, less suspicious of non pack members. Starting to sound familiar?

    Look at the wolf and then look at the dog. All of the above apply to them. If you ever get the chance to be close to a wolf and see them in profile, you'll note their heads/faces are different. They have much less of a "forehead". Their muzzle has a much straighter line through to the back of the skull. Their teeth are bigger, they're more robust etc. You can introduce a new dog to other dogs and generally this goes OK. Try doing that with a wolf. I read a blog of a bloke in the US who had a tame wolf and he noted that the wolf was fine with his family and mates who the wolf knew from puppyhood, but was very cautious, even aggressive with new people no matter how much time they spent around them. Yet he would happily greet someone he knew as a pup, but hadn't seen for years.

    Now look at us. Compare us to previous humans, compare us to Neandertals. Neandertals have been described as "wolves with knives". I'd agree, but would take the comparison further. Step back and look and we look like domesticated and neotenous Neandertals in pretty much all the markers of domestication. Smaller muzzles, less robust, more gracile, smaller dentition, bigger foreheads and more varied colouration. I would reckon that behaviourally there might have been a difference too. In my take a Neandertal would be a fully "adult" human. Less playful, more suspicious of outsiders, more aggressive in such circumstances, less likely to accept others and exchange ideas with them. More "wolf", whereas we're more "dog".

    The wolf and dog scenario might suggest other things about us and Neandertals too. The wolf is endangered in much of it's range, squeezed into smaller and more remote areas. The dog is everywhere. One of the most common mammals on the planet. Go back 30KYA and that situation was remarkably similar to what was happening to Neandertals and us. By getting into bed with each other we thrived and those that didn't sign that contract got squeezed out.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Homo hominis lupus :D Couldn´t resist.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,741 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs


    I'd go for Homo Sapiens familiaris as a tag for us myself. :D Just as Canis Lupis is the wolf and Canis Lupus Familiaris is the doggie at our feet.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Wibbs wrote: »
    I'd go for Homo Sapiens familiaris as a tag for us myself. :D Just as Canis Lupis is the wolf and Canis Lupus Familiaris is the doggie at our feet.

    I never liked calling dogs Canis lupus familiaris. I know they are genetically almost identical, but its like a personal thing... I have only seen wolves in zoos but they are beautiful, graceful animals with amazing eyes. For some reason I feel it's like a sacrilegy to call those mop-like lap dogs Canis lupus. If I was a wolf I would be pissed XD To me at least, dog will always be Canis familiaris.:pac:


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭ Galvasean


    Adam Khor wrote: »
    I never liked calling dogs Canis lupus familiaris. I know they are genetically almost identical, but its like a personal thing... I have only seen wolves in zoos but they are beautiful, graceful animals with amazing eyes. For some reason I feel it's like a sacrilegy to call those mop-like lap dogs Canis lupus. If I was a wolf I would be pissed XD To me at least, dog will always be Canis familiaris.:pac:

    I'm ashamed to be almost genetically identical to these guys...

    jedward-532_1505898a.jpg

    Can't choose your relatives and all that...


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,759 ✭✭✭✭ dlofnep


    I don't think we would have bred baby wolves in any capacity. The lowered flight distance of a select few wolves, as a result of a genetic mutation to make them more tolerant/less fearful of humans would have began the initial co-existence.

    Yes, the Arctic Fox experiment in Russia is a great example of it - but that is artificial selection. In the wild, such a thing would have occurred over a much longer period of time. Only during that time would we both naturally enhance our tolerance of each other, until eventually there was a level of trust built - that no other two animals share.

    However - although it's hard to say - I can't imagine a domesticated Wolf seeing any difference between Neanderthals and Humans. Therefore I put it if Neanderthals didn't keep dogs alongside them, it could have been their fault. Perhaps an aggressive gene that existed in Neanderthal, which had an evolutionary advantage up until that point. While humans may have been tolerant of a slightly-domestic Wolf, Neanderthals may have been much more skeptic, and actively hunted away the Wolves.

    Of course this is highly speculative.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Speaking of neanderthals (and thinking there are already too many threads about them XD), here's a news report about a Neanderthal toe found in Guadalajara, Spain. I haven´t been able to find the report in English. It seems that the toe has bite marks made by a small carnivoran, possibly a fox:

    http://noticiasdelaciencia.com/not/4277/descubren_el_primer_resto_oseo_neandertal_en_uno_de_los_yacimientos_del_alto_valle_del_jarama/

    img_8196.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭ Galvasean


    So, it would appear not only did canids help us out, but also ate our rivals! :D

    fox.jpg

    I just like that picture. It looks like he's winking.


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,741 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs


    dlofnep wrote: »
    I don't think we would have bred baby wolves in any capacity. The lowered flight distance of a select few wolves, as a result of a genetic mutation to make them more tolerant/less fearful of humans would have began the initial co-existence.
    Maybe, though a fair few people have "tamed" baby wolves and kept them as "pets" in historical times. A couple of roman emperors had "pet" wolves. IIRC Louis the 13th had a couple. It was all the rage in the 19th century. I put on the parenthesis because they're weren't domesticated rather they were tamed, but they seem to be more easily tamed than any other apex predator you could think of. Probably because their family structures are not dissimilar to human family structures.
    Yes, the Arctic Fox experiment in Russia is a great example of it - but that is artificial selection. In the wild, such a thing would have occurred over a much longer period of time. Only during that time would we both naturally enhance our tolerance of each other, until eventually there was a level of trust built - that no other two animals share.
    Oh very true on the timescale front. THough I suspect if you were a hunter gatherer, raising a foundling baby wolf would result in a much more mutually useful exercise than with an arctic fox.
    However - although it's hard to say - I can't imagine a domesticated Wolf seeing any difference between Neanderthals and Humans. Therefore I put it if Neanderthals didn't keep dogs alongside them, it could have been their fault. Perhaps an aggressive gene that existed in Neanderthal, which had an evolutionary advantage up until that point. While humans may have been tolerant of a slightly-domestic Wolf, Neanderthals may have been much more skeptic, and actively hunted away the Wolves.
    I'd reckon that's a big part of it. IMHO and it's sooo MH, :D like I said earlier I think the major difference is that we had started to domesticate ourselves so extended that to other species more easily. This was not a part of the Neandertal box of tricks. In them the predator competition part overwhelmed any "aaawww" factor when faced with a baby wolf. Like any other predator, the young are easy pickings. With us the awww factor trumped that.
    Of course this is highly speculative.
    Meet your much older twin. :D

    EDIT this "aaaw" factor of ours may explain why we find Neandertal DNA in us, but no us DNA in Neandertals. We were more open to the stranger, the new, the novel, the "wild" for it's own sake. Or at least enough of us were. Though it may sound odd given our subsequent history, we may actually be the least "racist" humans to have lived. In that regard at least. Hell, even when we busied ourselves wiping out indigenous peoples around the world throughout history, there seems to have been a minority that would get jiggy with those indigenous people at the same time. Pick any conquest/invasion/war you like and there was always some "love across the barricades".

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Wibbs wrote: »
    I think the major difference is that we had started to domesticate ourselves so extended that to other species more easily. This was not a part of the Neandertal box of tricks. In them the predator competition part overwhelmed any "aaawww" factor when faced with a baby wolf. Like any other predator, the young are easy pickings. With us the awww factor trumped that.

    This is interesting. So you think Neanderthals wouldn´t react to small cute animals the same way we humans- and orangutans and gorillas and even captive chimpanzees (highly predatory in the wild) do today?
    Do you know anything about interaction between Neanderthals and other large predators of the time? Hyenas, wolves, lions, bears, whatever? I think I remember that hyenas were their main competitors in certain places...


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,759 ✭✭✭✭ dlofnep


    Wibbs wrote: »
    Maybe, though a fair few people have "tamed" baby wolves and kept them as "pets" in historical times. A couple of roman emperors had "pet" wolves. IIRC Louis the 13th had a couple. It was all the rage in the 19th century. I put on the parenthesis because they're weren't domesticated rather they were tamed, but they seem to be more easily tamed than any other apex predator you could think of. Probably because their family structures are not dissimilar to human family structures.

    You can tame a wolf to an extent, but they will still be wild and will still express aggressive behaviour when it comes to food. It would take some genetic mutation for a wolf to be more tolerant of humans. Those that were destined for Alpha male status probably don't fit this bill - but rather, perhaps a more subservient wolf.

    I watched a documentary some time back (Can't seem to find the link) - which showed a woman who raised a wolf cub alongside other domestic dog pups. The first few weeks, the wolf cub acted like the other dogs - but after that it expressed much more wolf-like characteristics (very possessive over it's food, aggressive, territorial, etc..) - She eventually had to give the wolf up because it became too much to handle. Despite raising the wolf from newborn - it's natural instincts could never be suppressed.

    So I don't think that the wolf cub raising idea occurred, and if it did - I don't think it was the catalyst for man and dog co-operation. I think it was a much more gradual process, that saw only a very small select subservient outcast wolves, with a genetic mutation which allowed them to have a lower flight distance - work alongside humans.

    Remember humans would have been sceptical and fearful of wolves at that time also. It wouldn't have been only one way traffic. But humans are far more tolerant if something will benefit their species, and I imagine a few groups of humans tolerated these wolves - to the point where they became tame enough to actually start to breed the wolves as their own.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    dlofnep wrote: »
    Y
    So I don't think that the wolf cub raising idea occurred, and if it did - I don't think it was the catalyst for man and dog co-operation. I think it was a much more gradual process, that saw only a very small select subservient outcast wolves, with a genetic mutation which allowed them to have a lower flight distance - work alongside humans.

    Perhaps lone wolves started it all... life is very tough for lone wolves nowadays- it is more difficult to hunt large prey by themselves, and they are more prone to be attacked by more powerful predators such as big cats- also, wolf packs will attack and kill loners. In prehistoric times, when predators (and prey) were even more formidable, perhaps it was even tougher.
    Maybe these lone wolves were the ones that started roaming around humans, following them to consume their food scraps, etc? I would imagine a human group would be much more tolerant of one single scavenging wolf, than of a large pack which would be a much more frightening and undesirable presence...

    Canids are extremely adaptable and even today, jackals which have been kicked from their packs are said to sometimes join packs of other canids (like dholes) or even follow other larger predators; in India, lone jackals have been known for a long time to follow tigers around to feed on their scraps. Tigers usually tolerate these jackals because they benefit from their presence; supossedly, the jackal will howl to warn the tiger of possible threats or, some say, may even guide it to prey.
    Knowing how intelligent jackals are, this wouldn´t surprise me. So maybe the wolf-human relationship started a lot like the jackal-tiger one. A lone wolf would benefit from the human's kills (and protection) whereas the humans could potentially use the wolves as alarm/guard dogs against other human tribes or more dangerous predators.

    In time, true partnership could develop between them in a way that wouldn´t happen between say, a jackal and a tiger (tigers being mostly solitary and less prone to forming lasting bonds with their own kind, let alone other species).
    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTihreT3r-YC673uP4tghXgh9lsHiaGjBMHDP4hcAyw7KApLKf1SfblLJhH2A

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTmW_B_XZM4N7DyJgdmQ4zVfLmDU3llzxBrhH5tJiC7p8qm7EJ5xGUFuzqR


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,741 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs


    dlofnep wrote: »
    I watched a documentary some time back (Can't seem to find the link) - which showed a woman who raised a wolf cub alongside other domestic dog pups. The first few weeks, the wolf cub acted like the other dogs - but after that it expressed much more wolf-like characteristics (very possessive over it's food, aggressive, territorial, etc..) - She eventually had to give the wolf up because it became too much to handle. Despite raising the wolf from newborn - it's natural instincts could never be suppressed.
    I know the one you mean D. Again IMHO it was a somewhat spurious experiment. Yes there were issues like you pointed out, however, she was trying to make a modern dog in a modern environment out of a wolf in a way. My humble would be that this interaction and the tame wolf's behaviour wouldn't have been that big a deal for an early human hunter gatherer environment. They would have been less concerned with some hound jumping on tables and the like as they didn't have tables for a start. :D Native Americans in the 19th century had quite a distant relationship with their dogs, who because they were mating with wild wolves on a regular basis were as much feral as domestic. Our expectations have changed. Lapdogs so to speak as a type would have been odd for our ancestors. In that scenario the behaviour she and others experienced in that programme may not have been much of an issue, if at all. Basically for a family of human hunter gatherers a semi tame wolf would be a better fit. For a start it wouldn't be restricted. It wouldn't be stuck in a house climbing the walls. It would come and go as it pleased. Some would come more than go and over time in that environment we would select for that.

    In essence she and the experiment proved a distance between wolves and dogs today, but didn't explore the distance between us then and us now. For my mind that's the big diff.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,741 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs


    Adam Khor wrote: »
    This is interesting. So you think Neanderthals wouldn´t react to small cute animals the same way we humans- and orangutans and gorillas and even captive chimpanzees (highly predatory in the wild) do today?
    I don't think they'd have as big a reaction as us. Looking at the great apes I think the "captive" part is the thing and being captive changes the behaviour. Certainly the parenting bond will be triggered in other animals with different species than their own, but that extra "cute" thing I reckon is much stronger in us, like many other things. EG Neandertals most certainly had a culture, the more we find out about them the more we see of this. They may even have made art like us. However they didn't do it to the degree we did. I'd say similar with the domestication drive.
    Do you know anything about interaction between Neanderthals and other large predators of the time? Hyenas, wolves, lions, bears, whatever? I think I remember that hyenas were their main competitors in certain places...
    IIRC they interacted with cave bears a lot too. One cave had a collection of cave bear skulls placed there for some purpose(though the claims of a cave bear religious practice were really hyped up on the flimsiest of evidence). There's some evidence of scavenging of Neandertal remains like your toe bone. I can't recall any direct evidence of predator interaction with Neandertals. Given they were significantly more physically powerful than us and armed with pretty vicious weaponry I suspect even a cave bear would likely think twice engaging in direct conflict with a bunch of them.

    The jackal/tiger thing is very interesting AK. :) Could very well have been like that. Like you say lone wolves don't have a happy lot in life and don't tend to last long. I can certainly see that as one vector for domestication alright. IMHO it wasn't one way or just once or twice, but a mixture of keeping cute pups, mixed with wolf packs following tribes(as they did with some migratory native Americans), mixed with your lone wolf idea that gave us the dog.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



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