Author Topic: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.  (Read 586 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Kayto

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
    • http://www.michellecaldwell.com
Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« on: May 28, 2012, 12:47:24 PM »
I first saw the idea on a documentary about dogs perhaps 15 years ago. He (I don't remember his name) thought that dogs and Homo sapien sapiens may have cohabitated for a lot longer than the current accepted time length and that dogs probably helped Homo sapien sapiens to live better than neanderthals. Dogs could guard and sound the alarm quicker than any Homo sapien (better hearing and smell) and they could also aid in hunting. I thought it was interesting. But the idea was not presented in any way that approached scientific. It was just some guy's opinion.

When I go camping or hiking with my dogs (German Shepherd-Rottweiler-Lab-mix, purebred Lab), it seems so obvious that dogs can be a SIGNIFICANT benefit to people in "the wilderness." The mix-breed can find our trail after I lose it, my truck, vault-toilets, water, bedding areas of animals like deer and water fowl, deer poop, and horse poop --- all that is natural ability --- no special training. The lab does have some formal hunt training. She can find certain things on command. Not only is her stronger sense of smell a benefit but she will go into areas which are less safe for me (thorny thickets).

Apparently, evidence is building that supports the idea that dogs may have been important to Homo sapien sapiens survival.
Some summary points:
*The new date of dog-human cohabitation is now thought to be around 30,000 --- the same time as the neanderthal extinction. Many believe that sapiens out-competed neanderthals by adapting better tools and hunting techniques. Dogs, of course, would be among those new tools and hunting techniques.
*Dogs and sapiens are the only two known species that use pointing gestures.
*Dogs, wolves, and sapiens are all species that use gaze gestures.
*Sapiens are one of the few species that have "whites of the eyes" which is critical for using gaze gestures at longer distances.

The new article can be found here: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/do-the-eyes-have-it/2

Information about the pointing gesture: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0030913
=^.^=

Offline Anders

  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 9341
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2012, 03:19:54 PM »
Cats, meanwhile, looked on and said "Excellent, these two-legged creatures will be useful servants later on."
Proud child of the Enlightenment

I survived the Great Forum Disaster of 2014. Never Forget.

Forget not that I am an ass.

Offline daemonowner

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 214
  • Prospective Biologist
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2012, 08:58:37 PM »
My problem with this is that neanderthals, by all indications we have, were every bit as intelligent and social as we were/are. Are we to believe neanderthals couldn't use and understand hand gestures? In all likelihood they had visible whites of the eyes, good communication and complex hunting strategies. Living in the same regions as neanderthals, are homo sapiens supposed to have domesticated dogs over hundreds if not thousands of years without neanderthals interfering (doing the same thing, killing humans and getting dogs, developing other strategies)? [throwing out random ideas as they come to mind]

Offline Jolimont

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 636
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 02:26:03 AM »
There are lots of old Gaul settlements along the river near where I live (450-65 BC, southern France) and archeologists commonly find bits of bones in cooking  pottery. When tested for DNA it turns out those are often dog bones. So it would appear that dogs were also on the menu. It makes sense even if I find it revolting. It's easier to kill a semi domesticated dog than a wild bore.

But this tidbit doesn't address the neanderthal question your post raises, only that dogs are also advantageous because you can eat them.

Offline Shadow Of A Doubt

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1744
  • Itinerant fantasist
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 08:12:44 AM »
Another hypothesis is that Homo sapiens was able to copy ideas from the tribe next door whereas Neanderthals apparently couldn't do that. I think the evidence comes from a new kind of spear-tip spreading throughout the European continent but not being adopted by the Neanderthals.
"What, are you also proposing some magical colour midway between black and white?  Shall we call it "whack", maybe, or "blite"?  Nice imagination there, buddy."
amysrevenge

Offline Kayto

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
    • http://www.michellecaldwell.com
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 01:23:39 PM »
Yep, it is my understanding from what I have read (not just in this article but in many others) that it is currently believed that one major difference between the two human species is that one adapted / invented new hunting techniques and tools and the other did not.

Did that difference lead to an advantage for one and extinction for the other? Some people believe so.

Were dogs one of those new hunting techniques / tools? Fossil evidence is building that strongly implies "yes."

I, personally, know nothing about whether or not neanderthals had "whites of the eyes." The article strongly implies that they did not. Is that an assumption based on the fact that most other primates do not have that feature? Does anybody know for sure?

They do not argue that neanderthals did not use pointing gestures. From what I understood: they point out that because, today, there are only two species that use the pointing gesture instinctively (almost from birth without training / teaching); those two species have had a strong symbiotic relationship for a very long time.
=^.^=

Offline ♫♪ FX ♪♫

  • Earnest Young Man
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 16815
  • Plutonium is your friend!
    • Is it working?
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 01:58:28 PM »
       Having read Clan of the Cave Bear (and the sequels) it's clear that the human quality of wanting to kidnap animal babies and raise them, tame them, and enjoy them, not only enabled those humanoids who desired this to evolve and win the evolutionary struggle, but it is also one of our most human of qualities. 


     Animals don't have pets.  People do.  Animals don't work with other carnivores to hunt.  Nor share the gains.  It's a human trait to use animals for an advantage.  All this is of course conjecture.




It is difficult to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. - H.L. Mencken

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons history has to teach.” - Aldous Huxley

Offline Shadow Of A Doubt

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1744
  • Itinerant fantasist
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 02:36:54 PM »
I, personally, know nothing about whether or not neanderthals had "whites of the eyes." The article strongly implies that they did not. Is that an assumption based on the fact that most other primates do not have that feature? Does anybody know for sure?

How would they know the answer? Idk, but we should consider the fact that neanderthals were a sub-species of Homo sapiens and so comparing them to other primates would be erroneous.

Dogs and humans have evolved a symbiotic relationship. The question though seems to be was that relationship key to us out-competing the Neanderthals. I don't yet see the justification for picking dogs out of all the other aspects of human culture.

Also, the dates are not quite right. Wikipedia has dogs being domesticated between 30000-9000 years ago (huge uncertainty there!) whereas it seems Neanderthals were already extinct across most of Europe by 30000 BCE.
"What, are you also proposing some magical colour midway between black and white?  Shall we call it "whack", maybe, or "blite"?  Nice imagination there, buddy."
amysrevenge

Offline Kayto

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
    • http://www.michellecaldwell.com
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2012, 09:00:03 PM »
Quote
How would they know the answer? Idk, but we should consider the fact that neanderthals were a sub-species of Homo sapiens and so comparing them to other primates would be erroneous.


I don't know. But the person who is arguing this is a professor of anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. So I hope that idea isn't completely made-up. I'm not sure why Homo sapien sapiens and Homo sapien neanderthalensis can not be individually compared to the primates as a whole just because they are classified as subspecies of Home sapien. (Although I think this anthropologist is referring to them as different species.)

Quote
Dogs and humans have evolved a symbiotic relationship. The question though seems to be was that relationship key to us out-competing the Neanderthals. I don't yet see the justification for picking dogs out of all the other aspects of human culture.


I don't think anybody has. Certainly, the article that I read did not.
Quote
Why weren’t Neandertals better adapted to their environment than the newcomers?
There is no shortage of hypotheses. Some favor climate change, others a modern-human advantage derived from the use of more advanced hunting weapons or greater social cohesion. Now, several important and disparate studies are coming together to suggest another answer, or at least another good hypothesis: The dominance of modern humans could have been in part a consequence of domesticating dogs—possibly combined with a small, but key, change in human anatomy that made people better able to communicate with dogs.


And I don't think the study (Archeologists from Cambridge) that proceeded that article did either (but I don't have access to the actual full text): http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6042/623.full

I think the Mellar French work studied the Homo sapien sapiens massive population increase that directly proceeded the neanderthal extinction and concluded that it was due to the hunting technique / tool invention of the one species. I don't know that they discuss specific tools.

Quote
Also, the dates are not quite right. Wikipedia has dogs being domesticated between 30000-9000 years ago (huge uncertainty there!) whereas it seems Neanderthals were already extinct across most of Europe by 30000 BCE.


The dates seem goofy to me too. I don't know if this anthropologist is assuming that more fossil data will be coming to back up the DNA evidence?  From what I have read, the earliest known dog (not wolf) skull is 32,000 years old. The 9000 year dog domestication date has been dismissed by most people. That was the known date when I was a kid (prior to 2009 according to the article --- but many people had believed it to be earlier before 2009.) The dog domestication date was pushed back to be much older based first on DNA (which has the wolf-dog split, by some people's data, as early as 100,000 - but some people needed fossil evidence to push that date back further than 9000) and then more fossil discoveries were made. They have not found ANY near 100,000. They have found a lot which are much older than 9,000. I'm no expert but I have read a lot on the subject. I'm a dog trainer and have had dogs all my life. I'm over 40 years old, so the change in dog domestication date has been especially interesting --- It's like seeing how science can work ---- "facts" changing as new data is found. I certainly dismiss the 9000 year data for whatever that is worth. And I wonder if there will be more fossil discoveries that will push the date closer to the DNA date or if any new DNA studies might push that date up to the known fossil date?


Interestingly, I found different numbers on wikipedia than you did:

Quote
Although mDNA suggest a split between dogs and wolves around 100,000 years ago no specimens predate 33,000 years ago that are clearly morphologically domesticated dog.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canis_familiaris

=^.^=

Offline JuniorSpaceman

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 563
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2012, 11:42:41 PM »
I first saw the idea on a documentary about dogs perhaps 15 years ago. He (I don't remember his name) thought that dogs and Homo sapien sapiens may have cohabitated for a lot longer than the current accepted time length and that dogs probably helped Homo sapien sapiens to live better than neanderthals. Dogs could guard and sound the alarm quicker than any Homo sapien (better hearing and smell) and they could also aid in hunting. I thought it was interesting. But the idea was not presented in any way that approached scientific. It was just some guy's opinion.

I remember hearing a similar documentary (although it was on radio, not TV), which explored why dogs have average sight vs humans having quite powerful sight, and the opposite being the case for smell. According to the doco (which I've always remembered for some reason), it is evolutionarily advantageous to become a specialist in one 'skill' (or have one heightened sense), rather than being a generalist, and cooperative-evolution gives you the best of both worlds.

Offline ♫♪ FX ♪♫

  • Earnest Young Man
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 16815
  • Plutonium is your friend!
    • Is it working?
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 12:29:47 PM »
       There can be little doubt having dogs is a huge advantage.  Especially in the dangerous times of warfare. 
It is difficult to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. - H.L. Mencken

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons history has to teach.” - Aldous Huxley

Online lonely moa

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2431
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 12:55:37 PM »
Life is better with a dog.
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

― Napoleon

Offline ♫♪ FX ♪♫

  • Earnest Young Man
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 16815
  • Plutonium is your friend!
    • Is it working?
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 12:56:16 PM »
     Dog lover!
It is difficult to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. - H.L. Mencken

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons history has to teach.” - Aldous Huxley

Offline Jack R.

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2174
  • Sci Fi Geek, fencer, free thinker, dog friendly
    • Skeptical Perspectives Blog
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 05:58:13 PM »
"What do I think of Western Civilization?  I think it would be a very good idea."  -   Mohandes Gandhi

Offline Kayto

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
    • http://www.michellecaldwell.com
Re: Dogs helped Homo sapien sapien out-compete Neanderthals.
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 08:27:14 PM »
Jack R,

Thanks for adding links to those article.

The WSJ one is pretty good. It touches on a whole bunch of the current dog topics. I wonder if the author's book is good?
=^.^=

 

personate-rain
personate-rain