Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Intriguing Theory About How Domestication of Wolves by "Modern Humans" Led to Extinction of "Neanderthals"

A continuation of exploring evidence that canines may have been domesticated by people more than 40,000 years ago.

I like this hypothesis of what may have led to the eventual "extinction" of Neanderthal people. Of course, Neanderthals are not really extinct because their DNA continues to exist in our so-called "modern" human DNA -- some 3% to 4% of shared genetic material that we KNOW came from cross-breeding in some "modern" human populations but not others because not all of us share this DNA imprint.  If the DNA of Neanderthal continues to exist in so-called "modern" human beings, I don't think the Neanderthals are extinct at all, do you?

Regardless, it means that so-called "modern" man wasn't the blood-thirsty murdering bastard then that he has, some would have us believe, morphed into today.  I leave you to judge...

Here's the article -- sensationalized, of course, because it's from The Daily Mail, but they do have a way of making obscure scientific hypotheses easily accessible to anyone who bothers to read about them:

Always a man's best friend: Dogs bred from wolves helped humans take over from Neanderthal rivals in Europe 40,000 years ago

  • Neanderthals were wiped out after ancient humans arrived from Africa
  • Scientists disagree on why - but top anthropologist may have the answer
  • Dr Pat Shipman said we paired up with wolves in symbiotic partnership
  • Wolves cornered prey and humans made the kill, sharing meat afterwards
  • Neanderthals were then 'no match' for humans' superior hunting tactics
It's thousands of years since mankind won dominance over nature, and we're still pretty proud. [Ridiculous for anyone to assert that mankind has any kind of dominance over nature - ha!  Just in the USA alone we have - oh, the Dust Bowl in the 1930's, the Mississippi River flooding during the 1970's, Hurricane Andrew in the 1990's, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, ongoing desertification of large swatches of the southwest USA that we have no way of combating let alone reversing -- oh the wheels of time just keep on turning...]
But a top researcher says we've been giving ourselves too much credit - because we were helped by our oldest friends. [Hell yeah we were.  There is a reason the Great Goddess is so closely associated with canines - duh.] 
Humans paired up with dogs as early as 40,000 BC, it is claimed, giving us such an advantage in hunting that it prompted the wipeout of our Neanderthal rivals.  The controversial theory has been put forward in a new book by leading anthropologist Pat Shipman of Pennsylvania State University.

She has challenged the common scientific view that wolves were only domesticated just over 10,000 years ago, after early humans had already asserted a strong foothold in Europe. [Oh please.  Anyone who keeps up with the latest archaeological news knows that humans domesticated canines in several waves over time beginning about 40,000 years ago.  But good for Dr. Shipman for getting good press for the hypothesis to at least start getting the Average Josephine thinking about such a thing.]
Instead, she said, humans began taming and breeding wolves - leading to the pets we know today - soon after they arrived on the continent from Africa up to 70,000 years ago.
At the time, our close genetic relatives the Neanderthals were dominant in Europe, fighting for survival as they hunted creatures such as woolly mammoths with primitive tools.
But soon afterwards the rival species died out, leaving a clear path for the homo sapiens that make up today's humans.

Strong rival theories of their demise include that Neanderthals, just like woolly mammoths, were unable to cope with the changing climate of the last ice age or that humans were better hunters. 
Dr Shipman, however, told The Observer: 'We formed an alliance with the wolf and that would have been the end for the Neanderthal.  Early wolf-dogs would have tracked and harassed animals like elk and bison and would have hounded them until they tired. Then humans would have killed them with spears or bows and arrows.
'This meant the dogs did not need to approach these large cornered animals to finish them off – often the most dangerous part of a hunt – while humans didn’t have to expend energy in tracking and wearing down prey. Dogs would have done that.  Then we shared the meat. It was a win-win situation."
Dr Shipman's theory, shared in her book The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction, was partly inspired by early dog remains.
She examined 33,000-year-old fossils of dogs found in Siberia and Belgium, and looked at how the shapes of their jaws and skulls were different from wild wolves.  Although they were far more similar to wolves than the pets of today, there were clear signs of domestication, she said - including shorter snouts, densely-packed teeth and wider jaws.
The theory is the latest in a long line about our prehistoric ancestors, many of which contradict each other.  Last year a study at the University of Tübingen in Germany claimed early humans emigrated from Africa far earlier than we first thought - and as many as 130,000 years ago. 
Another study at the University of Chicago said wolves began evolving into domestic dogs between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago, while a third study said dogs may not have evolved from wolves as we know them today at all.

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