Caring for animals may have influenced human evolution
The term "man's best friend" may have a whole new meaning, according to new research.Â Â Animals - primarily dogs - have played an integral role in the evolutionary process of humans, according to Pat Shipman,Â a professor of biological anthropology at PennÂ StateÂ University. Humans have always had the urge to nurture, and in a paper published in August 2010 issue of Current Anthropology, Shipman notes that the "animal connection" Â goes beyond the warm fuzzies that we feel.
As resourceful as humans are,Â the mental and physical abilities that we possess have always served us well - but there have been limitations to what we could do. For one, we weren'tÂ veryÂ good predators, putting us at a great disadvantage.Â Shipman explains that the timeframe that humans started using stone tools - 2.6 million years ago - enabledÂ humans to be on a more level playing field as other carnivores.
flickr photo courtesy of mulmatsherm
In a press release, Shipman goes on to say that the urgent need to convey information with regard to the advantageous practice of domesticating animals arose and eventually led to the evolution of language. This progression seems to have begun with artwork on walls of caves - which was typified by drawings of animals, not people, and led to the use of symbols and, in time, language.
An interesting thought: Did members of the human species that kept canines, then, have a better chance of survival over those that did not? Could that have changed the evolution of humans?
The relationship between humans and canines has endured due to, in many ways, necessity, but the very definition of necessity has evolved, it could be said. Where would both species be now if this alliance wouldn't have been forged?
Dogs have come to teach us in some ways to be more human, resilient and resourceful. Humans have to a vast degree helped the proliferation of the canine species along.
That being said, what does the future hold for our respective species?
Lorrie Shaw is a regular pets contributor on AnnArbor.com, pet blogger on More Than Four Walls and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She frequently writes about the fascinating bond between animals and humans as well as other social issues connected to animals. She welcomes your contact by e-mail.