July 19, 2022 | Jerry Bergman

Dogging Evolution

The origin of dogs has been solved!
Or is that just dogma?

 

 

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

Two questions continue to dog evolutionists about dogs: the origin of dogs from some non-dog ancestor, and the domestication of dogs.

Figure 1. Cimolestes, the supposed evolutionary ancestor of the modern dog, looks nothing like a dog.

From Non-Dogs to Dogs

The question of how dogs originated from some pre-dog ancestor has generated some guesses, but no consensus. One guess for the non-dog ancestor is Cimolestes, a small animal which looks more like a rat than a dog (see Figure 1).

Paleontologists disagree on Cimolestes’ relationship to other mammals. Since fossils of this extinct mammal have been uncovered in North and South America, Europe, and Africa, we have a good idea of what this animal looked like, and it was not anything like a dog.[1]

Another candidate for dog ancestor is a Paleolithic dog that resembled a Siberian Husky, only much larger.[2] Yet another theory is that dogs and whales have a common ancestor (see Figure 2).[3]

Figure 2: Putative ancestor of dogs and whales is neither dog-like nor whale-like.

From Non-Whales to Whales

Other guesses illustrate the fact that an evolutionary dog ancestor is unknown. The most detailed study of the evolution of dogs put forth a large number of candidates, but they all looked very much like modern dogs. This begs the question of where dogs came from.[4]

 

 

 

Figure 3. The skeleton on which the drawing in figure 2 is based.

 

From the Wolf to Modern Dogs

Evolutionists generally agree that all 500 or so modern breeds of dogs evolved from the wolf. The literature on the origin of modern dogs often makes this claim. A new paper by Bergström et al. reviewed below focuses solely on the origin of the modern dog from the wild wolf. This is a common situation in discussions about dog evolution; they ignore the origin of the wolf from some non-dog ancestor. What they try to answer instead is the second question: how did modern domesticated dogs evolve from wild dogs like wolves? It’s a bait-and-switch game. Since they cannot find a credible dog ancestor, maybe they can answer a simpler question to make evolutionary theory appear useful.

From Wild Dogs to Domesticated Dogs

The beginning of dog domestication is a current concern of evolutionary biologists. Even the solution to this much milder problem has eluded researchers: “Dogs were the first domestic animal, but little is known about their population history and to what extent it was linked to humans.”[5] Professor Bergström et al. writes: “While it is clear that grey wolves gave rise to dogs, there is no consensus regarding when, where, and how this happened.”[6]

Concerning this ‘hotly contested’ subject, reporter Michael Price wrote in Science Magazine that

Where and when dogs arose is one of the biggest mysteries of domestication. To solve it, researchers have tried everything from analyzing ancient dog bones to sequencing modern dog DNA—all with inconclusive results.[7]

The specific questions evolutionists have attempted to answer include when, where, and how often dogs were domesticated:

Wolves were the first animal with which humans formed a mutualistic relationship, eventually giving rise to dogs. While there is little consensus regarding when, where, and how many times domestication took place, the archaeological record attests to a long-term and close relationship to humans.[8]

Bergström and colleagues analyzed the genetic history of the grey wolf by comparing 72 ancient genomes. They concluded that modern dogs derive their ancestry from at least two different wolves,[9] a male and female. This conclusion coincides with the Genesis narrative but does not support evolution.

The Research Does Not Support Evolutionary Assumptions

Evolutionists assume that wild dogs like wolves originated far back in mammalian history, but were domesticated much later. In spite of numerous attempts, they have never been able to verify this view. Theories of domestication include the notion that dogs were attracted to food scraps that humans discarded near where the dogs lived. Gradually, these scavenging dogs became less afraid of humans. Eventually, they became part of human society.

The problem with this theory is that domestication is an inborn universal trait of all dog breeds from collie to pit bull.  If evolution is correct, mutations causing innate domestication would have had to occur in every modern precursor. Or those in which it did not occur would have had to become extinct for this position to be true. With rare exceptions, members of the Canidae family, including foxes, wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, bush dogs, raccoon dogs, and African wild dogs, are all tame if reared in captivity soon after birth and not abused.

The other position is that neither dogs nor humans evolved, but were both created very close to the same time. This view permits the belief that dogs were originally created to be companions of humans. It is supported by evidence that dogs born in captivity and reared by humans are tame, but dogs born in the wild and not reared by humans adopt an aggressive, so-called “wild” personality in order to survive.

The history of ancient civilizations shows that domesticated dogs were companions with humans far back in time: “Dogs and cats have been pets since ancient times. Dogs … are sociable and cooperative …. Dogs were valued for guarding and hunting [and other roles].”[10] Ancient Greeks put figures of dogs on their pottery, murals, and tombs alongside humans. The figures indicate that dogs were involved in hunting with their masters, herding sheep, and serving as companions to their owners in much the same role they still play today.[11] These facts support the view that dogs’ inborn traits show a design to serve as companions to humans.

Summary

The evidence from history and the published research completed on dog evolution confirms the view that the original created dog kind was domesticated quickly and able to effectively serve humans in numerous roles. After decades of looking, researchers have been unable to find viable evidence that wild dogs (especially the wolf) evolved into domesticated dogs. From the wolf came all dogs existing today, and the wolf, if born in captivity, can normally be a companion of humans as can any other species in the dog kind.

The dramatic differences in dog sizes between breeds.

See also my article from 28 June 2022 about regulation of adult body proportions.

 

References

[1] McKenna, M.C., and S.K. Bell 1997. Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

[2] Viegas, Jennifer. 2008. World’s first dog lived 31,700 years ago, ate big. NBC News, October 17. https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna27240370.

[3] Mitchell, Alanna. 2001. Early whales, small dogs much alike, fossil shows. The Globe and Mail, September 20. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/early-whales-small-dogs-much-alike-fossil-shows/article4153153/.

[4] Wang, Xiaoming, et al. 2008. Dogs: Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

[5] Bergström, Anders, et al. 2020. Origins and genetic legacy of prehistoric dogs. Science 370(6516):557–564. doi:10.1126/science.aba9572. PMC 7116352. PMID 33122379. S2CID 225956269.

[6] Bergström, Anders, et al. 2022. Grey wolf genomic history reveals a dual ancestry of dogs. Nature, June 29. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04824-9.

[7] Price, Michael. 2022. Ancient wolves give clues to origins of dogs. Science, June 29. https://www.science.org/content/article/ancient-wolves-give-clues-origins-dogs.

[8] Bergström, et al., 2020.

[9] Bergström, et al., 2022.

[10] Napoli, Donna. 2013. Treasury of Egyptian Mythology. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, p. 83.

[11] Severy, Merl. 1966. Man’s Best Friend. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, pp. 40-41.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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