Emeritus College 


Dogs and Humans: Evolutionary Allies


Bill Garrett, PhD



Dogs and humans have in common the fact that both species have been exceptionally successful in the lottery of evolution― in natural selection. In addition, both species share something unique: they came to be what they are today through the processes of self-domestication.


It was once assumed that dogs were wolves that humans had domesticated. Recent research suggests a very different story. Wolves, Canis lupus, through their contact with a particular species, Homo sapiens sapiens― US― transformed themselves into dogs. The fierce apex predator, the Big Bad Wolf, became "the best friend I've ever had." This relationship profoundly impacted both species, and is now thought to have begun  some 32,000 years ago.


These unlikely allies, apex predators both, came together to forge the basis of civilization, which emerged about 11,000 years ago and has survived down to the present. The story is fascinating, and is the topic of our course.







#1: Neaderthals and Neuroscience






Supplementary Readings



PBS American Experience: Influenza 1918

Food Incorporated (2009)