In the beginning, somewhere around thirty thousand years ago, humans, who were one of the most violent and virulent predators who ever walked the planet, even then, decided to enter into an agreement with wolves, who were very large and very fast predators in their own right. No one knows how. No one knows why. All we do know is that it did happen and the end result was an entirely different species evolving; the dog.
There are two prevailing theories and both of them have enough fatal errors to be totally wrong, but then again, both have to have some truth in them. We’re blinded by the lack of evidence and the imperfect vision that we have of who we were back then.
Theory One: Wolves hung around human campsites and living places so they eventually got used to being around humans, and eventually they became dogs.
Problems with Theory One: Why in the name of Lassie’s left foot would a group of humans allow really strong, fast, and deadly predators hang around their campsites and living places?
Theory Two: Humans found some lost wolf pups and raised them as their own.
Problems with Theory Two: The puppies would still be wild when they grew up and they would still be prone to attacking small humans and returning to the wild.
Some issues here: Both theories take on a lot of water very fast because of one very simple and very fatal flaw inherent in both of them; the size of the wolf gene pool that would eventually breed towards domestication. When humans were out trying to domesticate cows they would have a lot of wild cows, pen them up, herd them with dogs likely, and the offspring would not be allowed to wander. That’s a herd sized gene pool. But with wolves, you cannot have a herd sized gene pool because wolves are predators. They compete, a lot, for food and they’re dangerous. Cows are dangerous but you can herd them and pen them. What kept the wolves in place long enough to become dogs and how did the gene pool stay large enough to allow the evolution?
Disclaimer: I do not know enough about this subject to present any facts or cite any material backing The Mike Firesmith Theory on the Beginning of Mutts. However, I am more than willing to allow anyone and everyone to present their own theory and poke at mine with sharp sticks.
To begin with, in order for the wolf to dog gene pool to be large enough to work you need a sizeable population of wolves. This means an even large population of human beings. I hereby declare that our early ancestors of 26,000 years ago, lived in much larger groups than we suspect they did. Instead of there being scattered group of hunter/gatherers living in small clans that wandered here and there, I think those groups must have consisted of hundreds of humans.
This would explain why every time humans arrived at a new island or continent, the megafauna went extinct fairly quickly. Instead of there being small groups of humans who hunted large animals into extinction it makes more sense there were larger groups of humans who did this.
Why this doesn’t work: There isn’t a scrap of evidence for it anywhere.
Why it does work: It explains the extinctions and it explains dogs.
Here’s the scene: You have a nomadic tribe wandering around hunting and gathering and raising kids. They kill to eat but they also kill to eliminate competition. Following in their wake of destruction is a pack of wolves who scavenge the animals the humans hunt. At this point, my theory doesn’t make sense unless there is something the humans are getting out of this. If the humans are eliminating competition and wolves certainly would be, then the wolves couldn’t hang around without the humans needing them for something.
Protection would be a good answer, but it’s been proven that 26,000 years ago humans were already laying waste to any and every predator that walked the earth and more than a few who flew and swam.
Yet suppose Tribe One had a pack of wolves that were following it and Tribe Two decided to move in and go to war with Tribe One. If the wolves defended Tribe One, or at least alerted Tribe One to the presence of Tribe Two, a symbiotic relationship could begin.
When wolves began protecting one group of humans from another group of humans, that pack of wolves became protected from humans. When one group of humans saw the wisdom in having wolves near, the Dawn of the Dogs was not far behind.
I welcome sharp pointy sticks and competing theories at this juncture.