Charles Darwin in 1868 theorised that domesticated dogs were so varied that they had stemmed from two or more wild canine species. It’s said that the fossil of the direct ancestor of the dog hasn’t been discovered as yet, which is why we can just toy with probable options of who the true predecessor of the dog was. Here are some prevailing theories regarding the origin of the domestic dog.
If you compare a wolf and a dog, you’ll discover that there are many similarities. Why? The wolf is said to be the ancestor of the dog. Some say that the dog originated from the grey wolf. Other scientists argue that modern dogs seem to have more similarities with the prehistoric mainstream wolf fossils which have been unearthed in Europe, rather than grey wolves. In generic terms, the wolf is considered as the nearest relative and most likely ancestor of the domestic dog. DNA studies second the theory that the modern dog has originated from the wolf.
When dog came into being
The ancestral dog came into being in the last phase of the previous Ice Age, during which the reigning climate was dry and cold. Throughout the last Ice Age, there were broadly two kinds of wolves which roved the earth. They were the Megafaunal Wolf, which was huge and with a heavy build which prowled in the chilly north in Holarctic; another more slender species of the same lurked in the warmer South, in pockets which were spared from the ice sheets. When the Ice Age came to an end, the Megafaunal Wolf was found to be extinct with the more docile species spreading to the Holarctic. The Megafaunal Wolf hunted junior mammoths, bison and horses. According to some scientists, the modern dog may have evolved from a wolf with likeness to the Megafaunal Wolf.
Grey Wolf or Siberian Wolf – forefather of dog?
The contemporary grey wolf is the modern dog’s sibling, but not ancestor, claim scientists. Other scientists however refute this claiming that the foremost dogs came into existence around 12,000 to 14,000 years earlier, emanating from a sect of the grey wolf, which originated and lived in our very own India. This species of wolf thereafter spread to other parts of Asia, Europe and North America.
Certain scientists theorise that the modern dog evolved from the Siberian Wolf. This wolf frequented the Tundra 35,000 years ago.
Altai Dog – first ever dog?
Some scientists opine that the modern dog didn’t descend from the wolf but Altai dog. This dog of the glacial Ice Age, hailed from the Altai mountainous terrain which happens to be the confluence of the four nations: China, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Scientist Dr Nikolai Ovodov conducted a study wherein the remainders of a dog like animal from the Siberian cave of Razboinichya around 33000 years ago indicated resemblances with domesticated canines from Greenland that thrived 1000 years earlier.
Miacis – ancestor of dog?
Archaeologists and those who study fossils claim that a weasel like mammalian called Miacis lived on Asiatic soil 60 million years ago. This species of animal went on to be the ancestor of canids which comprised foxes, jackals, wolves, dingoes, coyotes and last but not the least- dogs. Miacis didn’t have immediate descendants. Rather canids with dog like traits developed from it. As per the Miacis theory, the first dog like creature, known as the Cynodictis, was a mammal of medium size, not too tall but rather long, with a bristly coat and a long tail. The Cynodict is bifurcated into two groups, one in Eurasia and the other in Africa. The Eurasian line termed Tomarctus is the ascendant of dogs, wolves and foxes.
Jackal – progenitor of dog?
Jackal, and not wolf, according to some, is the originator of the dog.
What fossils say?
Fossil remnants indicate that five kinds of dogs existed by the start of the Bronze Age in 4500 BC: wolf type dogs, mastiffs, pointing dogs, sight hounds and herding dogs.
Perhaps zoologists in the future will come up with more interesting theories as to the type of mammals, which evolved into the modern day dog. It’s known to God Almighty alone as to how this beloved household pet of ours really originated.
When did dogs bifurcate from wolves?
According to a research, this deviation took place around 27,000 years ago when man was starting to settle down to a pastoral life but were simultaneously hunters and gatherers. Let’s remember that wolves are thought to be unfit to be tamed whereas dogs can be domesticated. These wolves would trail after the humans, to feed on the remnants of the animals that they hunted. Gradually the wolves started living along with humans as they slowly shed their inhibitions. This worked towards their mutual benefit, as these wolves safeguarded the human folk from more fearsome predators like hyenas and bears.
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