Author Topic: Evolution of dogs  (Read 2019 times)

Evolution of dogs
« on: June 18, 2019, 12:53:33 pm »
Saw this article
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-48665618

Which caught my interest because I was pondering the other day, the question: would dogs* exist if it wasn't for humans?

* (as we know them.)

Dogs presumably originally evolved from wolves. But if humans had never have evolved, they would have stayed as wolves and never evolved into dogs.

What will happen to dogs if/when humans die out, assuming whatever wipes humans out doesn't also wipe (all) dogs out?


Could dogs evolve other characteristics that further endear them to humans, such as the ability to look after themselves?
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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2019, 01:03:22 pm »
Could dogs evolve other characteristics that further endear them to humans, such as the ability to look after themselves?

Given that dog breeding is generally controlled by humans, it seems to me that where dogs tend to be selectively bred, it's usually[1] in order to exaggerate physical characteristics that make them less functional, but attractive to certain humans.


[1] Working dogs are presumably an exception.
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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2019, 01:07:28 pm »
Dogs are essentially kept at an adolescent stage. It's possible to train dogs in such a way that their 'natural' behaviours are under the control of humans acting as their pack leader, which is how sheepdogs are trained.

An interesting way of looking at this question is to consider how 'domesticated' humans are. Learning is an adolescent characteristic, and seems to be a trade-off with ability to look after yourself.

ian

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2019, 01:12:16 pm »
Arghhhhhhh... not you, the beeb, dogs haven't evolved to be anything, that's not how evolution works.

Dogs that have characteristics and behaviours that appeal to humans are more likely to be successful since we're selecting for those characteristics in our pets. They're not evolving them for us. Dogs aren't making themselves cute for our benefit, we're selecting dogs that look cute.

Dogs didn't evolve from wolves, they're domesticated wild canids. Certainly dogs, as pets and service animals, wouldn't exist in their current forms unless we had selected for the characteristics in each breed. If humans disappeared, then all those dogs would find themselves in different niches with different selection pressures. They wouldn't go back to wolves, but obviously those with traits that let them adapt to their new environment will survive and those traits will go on the be selected for in subsequent generations.
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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2019, 01:17:43 pm »
Dogs presumably originally evolved from wolves.

Yes they did, specifically grey wolves the same type you still find in North America and parts of Europe.

Quote
But if humans had never have evolved, they would have stayed as wolves and never evolved into dogs.


Yes, dogs evolved because initially the friendliest least scared of human ones hung around people and lived of scraps or helped warn of intruders etc and then people bred the friendliest most biddable wolves until they turned into dogs. Without the selection for human desirable traits they would have just continued as wolves. There would have been no driver for them to turn into dogs.

Quote
What will happen to dogs if/when humans die out, assuming whatever wipes humans out doesn't also wipe (all) dogs out?

That's an interesting question. They wouldn't revert to being wolves in a few generations. Presumably the massive differences between dogs would get ironed out as they interbred (unless small dogs found a specific ecological niche that kept selecting for that). They would end up homogenised as mid sized dogs living in packs like African wild dogs or dingos.

Quote
Could dogs evolve other characteristics that further endear them to humans, such as the ability to look after themselves?

Yes we could select for other traits. Anything other than morphology though would take a very long time. Evolving more intelligence so they could take acre of themselves along with opposable thumbs and paws that could open cans is somewhat unlikely :)
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2019, 01:21:42 pm »
Could dogs evolve other characteristics that further endear them to humans, such as the ability to look after themselves?

Given that dog breeding is generally controlled by humans, it seems to me that where dogs tend to be selectively bred, it's usually[1] in order to exaggerate physical characteristics that make them less functional, but attractive to certain humans.


[1] Working dogs are presumably an exception.

I know one characteristic that's selectively bred, that has been in the news because there's been rebellion against it as it is detrimental to the dogs' health, is snub-nosed-ness.
There's probably others, but it would be interesting if any of them were behavioural rather than aesthetic characteristics. Not sure I know of any.

Arghhhhhhh... not you, the beeb, dogs haven't evolved to be anything, that's not how evolution works.

Dogs that have characteristics and behaviours that appeal to humans are more likely to be successful since we're selecting for those characteristics in our pets. They're not evolving them for us. Dogs aren't making themselves cute for our benefit, we're selecting dogs that look cute.

Dogs didn't evolve from wolves, they're domesticated wild canids. Certainly dogs, as pets and service animals, wouldn't exist in their current forms unless we had selected for the characteristics in each breed. If humans disappeared, then all those dogs would find themselves in different niches with different selection pressures. They wouldn't go back to wolves, but obviously those with traits that let them adapt to their new environment will survive and those traits will go on the be selected for in subsequent generations.

Hmm - to be fair I thought they did say pretty much that?
Quote
She says that humans would have an "unconscious preference" to protect and breed from dogs with such an appealing trait, giving them an evolutionary advantage and reinforcing this change in subsequent generations.


Would you be happier if I said dogs diverged from wolves? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_the_domestic_dog
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2019, 01:25:52 pm »
Dogs didn't evolve from wolves, they're domesticated wild canids.

Yes they did. The latest genome sequencing shows that they are a subspecies of wolf. The current population of grey wolves and domestic dogs share a common ancestor grey wolf. They are not related to African wild dogs or other canids which are a different genus (well they are if you go back a really long way).

I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2019, 01:47:48 pm »
Presumably the evolution of dogs in a post-human future would in part depend on the traits humans have ignored or specifically tried to breed out, and whether those traits would be useful to dogs.  Considering the variety of traits we breed dogs for – strength, speed, size – many of those are obviously useful. I can't think what we might have bred out of them (or tried to) that would be useful other than pack leadership. Then are the traits we've bred into them which are positively harmful to their post-human survival, such as snub-nosedness. Presumably those would die out.
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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2019, 02:56:20 pm »
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2019, 03:30:28 pm »
Dogs didn't evolve from wolves, they're domesticated wild canids.

Yes they did. The latest genome sequencing shows that they are a subspecies of wolf. The current population of grey wolves and domestic dogs share a common ancestor grey wolf. They are not related to African wild dogs or other canids which are a different genus (well they are if you go back a really long way).


Not really, wolves and dogs had a recent common ancestor (a wild canid that was neither wolf nor dog), a branch of which then went on to be domesticated. Wolves and domesticated dogs are still diverging (and converging as wolves and dogs continue to interbreed). This latter point raises some problems as the genetic fitness of many dogs isn't great through our tinkering, and these deleterious genes find themselves in wild populations.
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caerau

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2019, 03:40:53 pm »
If they can breed and produce fertile offspring.... then they are the same species - isn't that one of the definitions of species?
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

ian

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2019, 03:47:06 pm »
Not really, the definition of species is a lot vaguer these days. Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, for instance, were evidently up for a bit of cross-species hoohah.
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caerau

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2019, 04:00:42 pm »
Yeah I can believe it 'evolves' over time  :-D   
I've never come across anything that suggests dogs and wolves are different species until this day though I have to say, but I'm possibly not up to date on the literature ;)
It's a reverse Elvis thing.

ian

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2019, 04:27:01 pm »
In olden times, an inability to interbreed was considered a marker for speciation (as it implied a genetic distinction substantial enough to prevent meiotic recombination). I suppose it still broadly fits, but there's a growing number of examples of what we consider species that can interbreed.

Lions and tigers, for instance, despite being obviously different species can do the fluffy rumble. No idea what kind of nightclub they meet in.
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2019, 05:39:47 pm »
Lions and tigers, for instance, despite being obviously different species can do the fluffy rumble. No idea what kind of nightclub they meet in.
One that's a bit of a CATtle market!

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2019, 07:45:42 pm »
Lions and tigers, for instance, despite being obviously different species can do the fluffy rumble. No idea what kind of nightclub they meet in.

Only in Kenya

ian

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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2019, 08:47:17 pm »
Cats will pretty much put bang anything with whiskers. I put it down to stupidity, they're not the brightest of creatures. Snow leopards and lions, for instance. I mean how? Was it a holiday romance? Seriously, they've done it, the evidence is splattered all over their genome.
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Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2019, 09:12:28 pm »
Lions and tigers, for instance, despite being obviously different species can do the fluffy rumble. No idea what kind of nightclub they meet in.

Only in Kenya
LOL :D

Re: Evolution of dogs
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2019, 05:59:41 pm »
Not really, the definition of species is a lot vaguer these days. Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, for instance, were evidently up for a bit of cross-species hoohah.
The current definition of species is so vague it's fucking useless. The splitters have won, with the entirely predictable result that a species has become whatever you want to call one.
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