Humans Evolved from Dogs

Posted on February 10, 2012 in Biology, Darwin and Evolution, Dumb Ideas, Humanity, Mammals, Mind and Brain

A new finding shows dogs performing better on one kind of intelligence test than chimpanzees.  If evolution teaches that human intelligence is the main trait separating us from other animals, and dogs are smarter than apes, shouldn’t the conclusion be that dogs are closer on the family tree?  If not, is it valid for evolutionary biologists to pick and choose the traits that matter?

A new paper in PLoS ONE had the surprising title, “Dogs (Canis familiaris), but Not Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Understand Imperative Pointing.”1  Researchers at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology worked with 32 dogs of different breeds, and 20 chimpanzees at reserves in Germany and Uganda.  They gave them simple tests to see if they could figure out where food was by pointing at it.  Despite rigorous attempts to rule out background causes or other distractions, the dogs scored much higher; the chimps just couldn’t get the message.  Jennifer Viegas at Live Science headlined the story, “Dogs Understand Us Better Than Chimps Do.

An evolutionary rescue device was near at hand.  Viegas wrote, “Chimps … have likely not evolved the tendency to pay attention to humans when trying to achieve goals.”  The authors of the paper did not mention evolution; they only suggested that dogs got this skill by human domestication (i.e., artificial selection).

1. Kirchhofer KC , Zimmermann F , Kaminski J , Tomasello M , 2012 Dogs (Canis familiaris), but Not Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), Understand Imperative Pointing. PLoS ONE 7(2): e30913. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030913.

Birds are actually smarter than dogs, and dolphins than birds.  So we have to update our earlier report that humans evolved from pigeons (12/26/2011).  The new evolutionary tree is: chimps begat birds, who begat dolphins, who begat people.  Hydrogen begat everything; or was it nothing? (See Evolution News & Views.)

2 Comments

Uncommon Descent | Chimps not as smart as dogs?: Jane Goodall, check your messages February 10, 2012

[…] “Humans Evolved from Dogs” Creation-Evolution Headlines (February 10, 2012) asks, A new finding shows dogs performing better on one kind of intelligence test than chimpanzees. If […]

Editor February 10, 2012

Gregdeocampo:
Your comment has been rejected for breaking the rules:

Creation-Evolution Headlines is a news site, NOT a discussion forum. We welcome reader feedback, but keep your comments short, civil, and relevant to the material presented. As you know, the topic of creation vs evolution raises emotional responses in some people, so our feedback is moderated to exclude profanity, incivility, rage, irrelevant nonsense, and drive-by attacks. Feedback is NOT a place for ranting on pet topics or slinging mud; it is also not a place for posting links to your site or other sites. Violators will be blocked. If commenting on an article, stick to the subject at hand.”

You can try again without ad-hominem attacks and red herrings, but repeat offenses will get you blocked.
Editor

Leave a Reply