The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

MAN'S BEST SYMBIONT
mooch my ass
How far back does the human-dog relationship go? About 15,000 years ago, starting in East Asia, according to recent studies. All this tries to make sense out of a senseless situation: Why Stone Age people would accept wolves as constant companions, especially when they were pretty dirt-poor themselves (as dogs, who need to eat meat to survive, would be pretty expensive to maintain).

I think the strong implication that the human-dog relationship is one of symbiosis is fascinating. It's obvious why dogs would leech onto humans: They get easy food and shelter out of the deal. What do humans get? Well, sentries, garbage disposals, and hunters. The thing is, those people and tribes who figured out how to domesticate dogs first would have had a distinct survival advantage over others who didn't. In other words, dogs played a crucial part in human natural selection.

The poochies also may have had a big part in the spread of humankind to the Americas. Good doggie!