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Science

New Research Sheds Light On the Evolution of Dogs 374

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-caveboy-and-his-dog dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The first dogs descended from wolves about 14,000 years ago but according to Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods humans didn't domesticate dogs — dogs sought out humans and domesticated us. Humans have a long history of eradicating wolves, rather than trying to adopt them which raises the question: How was the wolf tolerated by humans long enough to evolve into the domestic dog? 'The short version is that we often think of evolution as being the survival of the fittest, where the strong and the dominant survive and the soft and weak perish. But essentially, far from the survival of the leanest and meanest, the success of dogs comes down to survival of the friendliest.' Most likely, it was wolves that approached us, not the other way around, probably while they were scavenging around garbage dumps on the edge of human settlements. The wolves that were bold but aggressive would have been killed by humans, and so only the ones that were bold and friendly would have been tolerated. In a few generations, these friendly wolves became distinctive from their more aggressive relatives with splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. But the changes did not just affect their looks but their psychology. Protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures. 'As dog owners, we take for granted that we can point to a ball or toy and our dog will bound off to get it,' write Hare and Woods. 'But the ability of dogs to read human gestures is remarkable. Even our closest relatives — chimpanzees and bonobos — can't read our gestures as readily as dogs can. 'With this new ability, these protodogs were worth knowing. People who had dogs during a hunt would likely have had an advantage over those who didn't. Finally when times were tough, dogs could have served as an emergency food supply and once humans realized the usefulness of keeping dogs as emergency food, it was not a huge jump to realize plants could be used in a similar way.' This is the secret to the genius of dogs: It's when dogs join forces with us that they become special," conclude Hare and Woods. 'Dogs may even have been the catalyst for our civilization.'"
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New Research Sheds Light On the Evolution of Dogs

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  • primate dolts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:04AM (#43065981)

    > Even our closest relatives â" chimpanzees and bonobos â" can't
    > read our gestures as readily as dogs can.

    You can (quite seriously) include many humans in that as well. And on the other side of that coin, it's no surprise that many people relate to dogs a lot better than they do to other people.

    • Re:primate dolts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Monday March 04, 2013 @11:03AM (#43067657)

      You can (quite seriously) include many humans in that as well. And on the other side of that coin, it's no surprise that many people relate to dogs a lot better than they do to other people.

      No. You can't include humans in that unless you are literally referring to people in comatose states or those with severe brain damage.

      The gestures they are referrring to are VERY BASIC gestures like 'Pointing in a direction, and understanding that the person is trying to direct your attention to something and not just randomly raising their limb in the air' or if you were looking at someone's face, and their eyes focused on something to the right of you, understanding that they might be looking AT something other than you rather than just spontaneously losing control of their facial muscles.

      That's the level of gestures they are referring to, and any human who can't interpret those gestures of expressions are very likely in a vegetative state.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:05AM (#43065989) Journal

    I'd think it takes two.

    And from what I see humans have applied selection pressure on the dogs more than the other way around.

    On a related note:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:24AM (#43066061)

      As is typical in summaries here, and the attention-seeking articles they come from, the content doesn't seem to be as radical as the sales pitch.

      Nothing in the summary suggests wolves domesticated humans. It doesn't suggest that they caused us to somehow adapt. It describes a peculiarity in some wolves that turned out to be advantageous, and snowballed into full scale domestication.

      Color me surprised.

      • by jamesh (87723) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:37AM (#43066097)

        As is typical in summaries here, and the attention-seeking articles they come from, the content doesn't seem to be as radical as the sales pitch.

        Nothing in the summary suggests wolves domesticated humans. It doesn't suggest that they caused us to somehow adapt. It describes a peculiarity in some wolves that turned out to be advantageous, and snowballed into full scale domestication.

        Color me surprised.

        But dogs also caused us to domesticate plants too. It's right there in TFS, so it must be true.

        • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday March 04, 2013 @08:59AM (#43066515) Homepage Journal

          A lot of researchers overestimate the importance of their research. It's pretty common.

          Garbage piles though could be a common factor. They attracted wolves most likely, and our ancestors would have also observed edible plants sprouting from discarded seeds, which perhaps led to them thinking about deliberately planting some themselves.

          That's right, we owe thanks to garbage for helping spur the development of early civilization. Our culture is built on a foundation of garbage!

          • We were domesticated by... garbage?

            • by Shavano (2541114) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:00AM (#43066849)
              Not exactly. Garbage piles came after fixed settlements.
              • by Culture20 (968837)
                Or nomadic settlements. Rotate through the same areas and you may notice new plants on the old garbage piles.
                • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:56AM (#43067567) Homepage Journal

                  Or nomadic settlements. Rotate through the same areas and you may notice new plants on the old garbage piles.

                  Nomadic peoples tended to stick to more or less the same routes. They would learn over time that after years with certain types of weather, one route or another would be more fruitful, hence the less. Simply through the act of harvesting the best foods and then discarding the seeds, they would have guided the evolution of those plants. They might even have deliberately propagated some of them; the seed is after all one of the world's oldest technologies, having been developed by nature through trial-and-error long before the advent of humanity. And as well, some plants can propagate easily from cuttings, especially in climates which are easiest for naked beach apes to survive in.

        • by ElmoGonzo (627753)
          Just So Stories are always amusing because when you start at the end and work backward you can get to almost any starting place you wish to. And on an unrelated matter, those printed maze games are also easier to solve by starting at the end and working backward.
      • by Evtim (1022085) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:13AM (#43066193)

        I think I posted this once here for a different discussion. Imagine two villages - A and B. The people from A for whatever reason - genetics or behavior (or both) are afraid of wolves/dogs more than the people from village B. Village B over time domesticates few wolves and village A does not. Village B now has evolutionary advantage. fast forward - over time, people who cannot be "domesticated" by the wolves disappear just as wolves that cannot be domesticated by humans disappear.
        The process goes two ways. Usually we ascribe the "intention" to the human side only, because of the wide-spread fallacy that you need "intention" for the evolutionary process to happen...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dylsexia (1921540)

          Village B over time domesticates few wolves and village A does not. Village B now has evolutionary advantage.

          Yes, Village B has an evolutionary advantage, even though the people may not have evolved through the process. If someone from Village A were to visit Village B and see, first hand, the benefits of friendly wolves, then they'd take that idea back to their village, and you'd see a change in village A's attitude towards wolves that appear friendly. I.e., no human evolution need have taken place.

          However, this a textbook example of evolutionary selection of ideas, i.e., Dawkin's memes.

          • I always found the non-DNA based evolution to be fascinating. When it comes down to it, evolving via DNA is a slow process for complex animals, but evolving is very advantageous. So 'we' evolved a secondary method for passing information beyond the individual that wasn't tied to the trial-and-error-like mechanism of DNA. It's a very roundabout method to be sure. Information is stored in neural connections, transmitted to other individuals via some rather inefficient methods (learned via observation, spe

      • by flyneye (84093)

        As a gerbil owner, I'm sure you can't find the appreciation....

      • I've long held this view (and have a little archaeological training, so it's not 100% uninformed) - human group behaviour often seems, to me at least, to be closer to that of a dog pack than any of the other apes, so it's not entirely impossible that dogs have been "training" humans just as much as the other way around over the millennia. That said, this is just my gut feeling and I have very little to back it up with - I'm also doubtful that we'll ever find conclusive evidence either way.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      That's what I was thinking when I was reading this - by selectively killing the more aggressive wolves, they effectively domesticated dogs, not by nurture, but by "selective breeding" in a primitive sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:08AM (#43066005)

    Evolution is not driven by a species' "desire" to do things.

    It's clear from the information in the summary that humans domesticated dogs via unnatural selection (we killed off the ones we didn't like), yet the first sentence implies the authors reached the opposite conclusion.

    Species do not make up their minds to evolve into X. It just happens. Don't try to make up reasons why the species wanted it that way.

    • by qbast (1265706) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:21AM (#43066047)
      There is no 'unnatural selection'. If we killed off the one we didn't like then we were just one more evolutionary pressure just like meteor strike or sudden climate change would be.
      • by Twinbee (767046)
        Even though I agree with you for the times back then, if we suddenly decided to exterminate say all.... badgers, or pandas today on a whim (if we could), wouldn't that be a bit more contrived than otherwise? Back then, we were more worried about food and survival so that's what makes things different.
        • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Monday March 04, 2013 @08:17AM (#43066371)

          not really, stop thinking of us humans as special and start thinking of us as just another species within nature and you'll see that us killing off badgers or saving pandas is no different than any other external force on those species.

          Evolution = "shit happens, live with it" (those who can't, die off).

          • by Twinbee (767046)
            Even if you're right (and remember we have a lot more control over what species go extinct or not), it's still very arguable that we can make 'good' and 'bad' choices, even if it's tricky to decide which. 'Good' would be ridding the world of the mosquito. 'Neutral' would be some other insect, and worse would be a type of animal which has many close and similar cousin species. "Bad" would be, well, I guess cats/dogs, or rare and beautiful species, or ecologically useful species which have no comparison elsew
            • by gtall (79522)

              Mosquitoes have their role in the food chain. Killing off an entire species isn't a particularly good idea since we understand so little about what linkages are necessary.

            • 'Good' would be ridding the world of the mosquito.

              No, that would be a terrible idea. A huge number of other species would go extinct because you just chilidishly took away their food supply so you wouldn't have to use deet.

              You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

    • by jamesh (87723) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:38AM (#43066099)

      Stop anthropomorphizing evolition. It hates that!

      If it hates it so much why did it evolve us to do it?

    • Species do not make up their minds to evolve into X

      You are right on that statement, however, the statement that wolves evolved into domestic dogs is not entirely true. For a population to fully evolve into a new species, the ability to of the new species to interbreed and produce fertile offspring with the original species must be lost. Domestic dogs can freely breed with wolves and produce fertile offspring, so they have not completely evolved into separate species.

      • Species do not make up their minds to evolve into X

        You are right on that statement, however, the statement that wolves evolved into domestic dogs is not entirely true. For a population to fully evolve into a new species, the ability to of the new species to interbreed and produce fertile offspring with the original species must be lost. Domestic dogs can freely breed with wolves and produce fertile offspring, so they have not completely evolved into separate species.

        Did the previous poster state anywhere that X was a new species, rather than simply a new subspecies?

  • by Valentttine (2420782) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:10AM (#43066013)
    Hare and Woods researching dogs, there's a joke in there somewhere
    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      In Soviet Russia, Hare chases DOG!
      • by dcw3 (649211)

        You're clearly hung over, and in need of some hair of the dog.

      • You missed the perfect setup!

        In Soviet Russia, you don't domesticate dogs, dogs domesticate you!!

        It's even there in the summary!

        Millions of voices were crying out for the Lack of Smirnoff and the editors gave us one.

        I for one welcome our new canine overlords.

  • by tbird81 (946205) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:14AM (#43066025)

    I thought it was presumed by anyone that humans didn't go out, capture wolves and then selectively breed them for friendliness.

    Isn't what the summary says exactly what people have always said?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This exact same subject was covered in a Nature documentary "Dogs that Changed the World" back in 2007!

    • And how is this more shocking than "symbiosis", a kind of mechanism that was probably discovered back in the days of Darwin.

    • Ah, well let me introduce you to my best friend: Mr Edward Strawman. Whenever I want to make myself look important, I have an argument with him....
  • by opusman (33143) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:38AM (#43066103) Homepage

    If there's a domesticated species taking advantage of humans my money's definitely on cats rather than dogs.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:14AM (#43066195)

      SSshhhh. Keep it down or you'll be "disappeared" and placed deep in the tuna-mines.

    • by Phrogman (80473) on Monday March 04, 2013 @08:02AM (#43066337) Homepage

      Yeah, some people (my wife for instance) seem to be pathologically unable to live without a cat (or cats) around. I don't hate cats, but if I never saw another one in the rest of my life it wouldn't bother me overly. I just don't get the attraction people seem to feel for cats. They don't do anything, they just turn cat food into cat fur on the furniture :P

      • by DarkOx (621550) on Monday March 04, 2013 @08:45AM (#43066461) Journal

        Not quite useless. In colder climates we call them "Self propelled hot water bottles." Get a good ( a matter of luck mostly ) and it will come when its called.

        Cats also can be very effective detection systems. Mine will let me know about a dripping faucet, tree branch that has started rubbing the side the house etc; and anything making a new noise. She is very effective pre-diagnostic tool. Also at least a few times over the past years made her self useful as pest control.

        Once last summer I opened the porch door to the outside an a mouse ran in (I think they live in garden ). I called the cat pointed at the mouse. She had it in my hand in 5min. I tossed it back into the garden to go about his business. It was unharmed; well physically anyway I am sure it was traumatic. Had I had to corner that mouse myself I would have been moving tables and generally tearing the place apart. The cat just basically watched it for moment and and then pounced.

        Now I will readily concede that a dog could have probably do all these things just as well or better as the cat does; even the mousing. That said the cat is very low maintenance by comparison. I have had both. I don't have to walk the cat, I can leave an little extra food down; if I am not coming home some evening. The cat can handle herself for at least 48 hours. Same goes if you actually want to travel with your pet. Dogs on log (14+ hour) road trips are pain.

      • by dcw3 (649211) on Monday March 04, 2013 @10:09AM (#43066965) Journal

        Yeah, some people (my wife for instance) seem to be pathologically unable to live without a cat (or cats) around. I don't hate cats, but if I never saw another one in the rest of my life it wouldn't bother me overly. I just don't get the attraction people seem to feel for cats. They don't do anything, they just turn cat food into cat fur on the furniture :P

        When I met my wife, I was 41, never had a cat, and felt much the same as you. Thirteen years, and several cats later, I'll tell you my feelings have changed dramatically toward them. With dogs, you get that unconditional love...you could beat the crap of of one, and it would still great you at the door. With cats (not surprisingly, much like women), you have to work for it. They all have different personalities...we had one very aggressive tabby, and his twin who was the most docile & friendly pet I've ever seen. And last but not least, we used to have the occasional mouse, and a minor cricket problem...no need to call Orkin or Terminex when you've got a cat.

  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2NO@SPAMgdargaud.net> on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:39AM (#43066107) Homepage

    "we often think of evolution as being the survival of the fittest, where the strong and the dominant survive and the soft and weak perish"

    I like to give the example of birds. Which one is the most successful bird ? The most numerous on the planet. I'll give you a hint: it doesn't fly at all, it doesn't run fast and it's very good to eat. Still it's the most successful in terms of species: the chicken. Because it's good to eat, another specie (us) takes it everywhere and makes sure they reproduce in droves. Evolution works in funny ways...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:29AM (#43066249)

      it doesn't fly at all

      Hmmm. You obviously have never tried to catch a chicken before. City boy.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        it doesn't fly at all

        Hmmm. You obviously have never tried to catch a chicken before. City boy.

        Yeah... they're quite slippery when gotten out from the freezer, hard to catch indeed... and they do fly if missus throws one at you.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        He's not a city boy. If he were a city boy, he'd have said pigeon. He's probably from the suburbs.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      How about sheep? Bred to be stupid and dependant. Massive numbers of them just waiting to be harvested.

  • by dave420 (699308) on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:51AM (#43066127)
    "Survival of the fittest" should be read as "survival of the most fit-for-purpose". It has nothing to do with strength, ferocity, sharp teeth, etc.
  • What is new in this? I think I've heard most of this before (except the eating dogs part).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @06:55AM (#43066139)

    I see nothing wrong in the "old" thory - that humans kept some wolves that eventually evolved into dogs.

    Sure, humans have always been eager to eradicate competing/dangerous animals. But in doing so, they would come upon puppies now and then. And surely, some humans would find them cute. Then as now! It is then likely that someone tried to keep some puppies - if the times were good and there were food enough anyway. They could always kill them later, if they turned hostile.

    Bringing up young animals one finds in nature (possibly after killing/chasing off parent animals) is something humans attempt now and then. It is an interesting hobby. And it succeeds for several species. Taming birds is almost trivial - just be there (instead of the mother bird) when the eggs hatch. But birds is not that useful, beyond keeping them for food and more eggs.

    A tame wolf is valuable as soon as it grows up however. Even if it is a much rougher animal to handle than a modern dog. Any wolf expects to be in a pack - and will help its pack to survive. Using a wolf for hunting is doable - but it is tricky. Much more important is that the wolf will fight for you. When a wolf consider the local human village to be its pack, it will help fight off troublesome animals (even wild wolves). And it will help fight invading humans from other villages too. Puppies get useful within a year.

    So if you're bothered by invaders, you can add wolves to your army. Likewise if you're into conquest. Selective breeding can improve the animals a lot. But even the first generation, taken from a mother wolf, will be useful in stone-age warfare. Training can make them more useful, but even a wolf that merely grew up with you, will take your side in any fight. Which is also why some people today keep a large dog for protection.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      "but birds is not that useful, beyond keeping them for food and more eggs."

      Really? I need to let the people I know that have falcons and hunt with them that they are doing it wrong and should be eating them.

      • While the OP may have overstated his point, it is a lot more work to integrate a falcon into human hunting than it is to integrate a wolf that was raised from a cub by humans. When a human society hunts for its primary source of meat, it tends to use very similar tactics to those used by wolf packs making it easy to integrate a wolf into the hunt.
    • by Xest (935314)

      "Sure, humans have always been eager to eradicate competing/dangerous animals. But in doing so, they would come upon puppies now and then. And surely, some humans would find them cute. Then as now!"

      IIRC finding certain species cute is in itself an evolved trait that is quite possibly linked to this though - i.e. those humans who found puppies cute adopted them, trained them, and became more successful than those humans who didn't, hence passing the trait on. In other words there wasn't necessarily always a

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:40AM (#43066275) Homepage

    I have owned several dogs in my life and they learn sounds as well. I can have 4 items in a group and point and say "bone" and she will get the bon and not the ball.

    At one time I had my collie able to find the "red ball" among the blue, red, and yellow ones... Dogs are colorblind, BTW.

    Yes dogs understand gestures, if you ever had a duck hunting dog you know that is how you communicate with them before you shoot, but they understand far more than gestures. They understand them as good as they understand our noises, and it's not just because humans make the same motion all the time. Quadrapeligics cant point but the dog understands by training a different cue.

    And that is the point. Dogs we train. Of all the animals we have only dogs get training and take to training easily. And you can do the same with cats.

    Sadly most humans are far, far too stupid to know how to train dogs. You only resort to negative reinforcement as a last resort for changing bad behavior.... Most people start at the negative reinforcement.

    • Re:Flawed summary. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:55AM (#43066323) Homepage

      At one time I had my collie able to find the "red ball" among the blue, red, and yellow ones... Dogs are colorblind, BTW.

      No, they are not colorblind. They can see colors, just not as well as we do. Dogs can see two different color 'bands', humans can see three, and certain crustaceans (the mantis shrimp) can see about 11-12 bands. Talk about humans being colorblind. :)

      Early color movies only used two color bands, and they look surprisingly good.

    • Re:Flawed summary. (Score:4, Informative)

      by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Monday March 04, 2013 @09:27AM (#43066659)

      At one time I had my collie able to find the "red ball" among the blue, red, and yellow ones... Dogs are colorblind, BTW.

      There's a great article on this [hubpages.com] which recently showed up in the dog Agility world... They don't see the spectrum the same way, but they can usually differentiate between them if they're primary colours. Fortunately, most dog toys are pretty bright. And I've read that this spectrum isn't universal, either, just like humans have different kinds of colour blindness; dogs tend to show a preference for specific colours, and it's likely that those are "popping" in their personal spectrum.

      If your dog was able to find an arbitrary red ball (i.e. one never encountered before), it might have been targeting that particular hue. If your dog was trained to find a specific red ball (esp if it could find it in the dark), it might have just been finding it by scent. And I wouldn't ignore the possibility that the "red" colour dyes typically found in toys might be distinctive enough that "red" actually is a scent. You were using the cue "red ball", but cues are completely arbitrary anyways.

      Scent is a crazy powerful thing for a dog. I can pick up a pine cone, wing it into a yard full of pine cones, and my dogs will come back with that specific cone. Just the scent from my hand touching it for a few seconds, plus the disturbed ground where it landed, is enough to differentiate that specific random object.

  • what about puppies? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:43AM (#43066287)

    This theory assumes that at some point, bold friendly dogs walked up to humans in an attempt to be friendly.

    What about the packs of wolves that humans slaughtered when hunting for food and found a litter of puppies the now dead dogs were protecting?
    I think this scenario would most likely be the first source domesticated animals, over a fully grown wolf who decides to become friendly.

  • It is no surprise that dogs were the first domestic animals, they were more effective hunters than individual humans and humans could give dogs sources of food that they couldn't access on their own (notably bone marrow from cooked bones, though also various processed grains). We not only had the dog before we had the horse, the cow, the cat, any bird or any non-canine mammal, we had the dog before we had what some would consider to be civilization. Hence by extending the hunting ability of the human, the dog could be credited with helping to domesticate the human.

    Also worth noting that some of the very earliest grave sites from humans had dogs buried along side the humans; the dogs were that important to the earliest humans.
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Monday March 04, 2013 @08:13AM (#43066365) Homepage

    Puuuleeeese. It's like " No Child Left Behind " testing. Some one with a PhD designs a test to fetch a ball, and proves dogs are smarter than cats.

    I just was woken up to give the kitties their morning treats, then I changed their litter box, filled their water dish, was was still given the "look " because I prolly didn't do one of these things quickly enough. Then, I geld the door open for quite a while while one of the kitties sniffed and considered if going outside would be better than staying inside.

    Dogs smarter? Only someone that isn't familiar with cats would even think this.

    Dogs have owners.
    Cats have staff.

    • by kurt555gs (309278)

      One more thing:

      Dogs have their own Facebook page?

      http://www.facebook.com/ZackTheOrangeCat [facebook.com]

    • I like both cats and dogs and am familiar with both. However, dogs more rapidly learn to repeat behaviors that get them results which they like (and to avoid behaviors which have results that they dislike). Of course, the fact that dogs are pack animals while cats are more solitary means two things for humans training the animals. The first is that dogs place greater value on "affection rewards" than cats do. The second (and somewhat related) is that since humans are also pack animals they have a better und
  • I am often amazed at how well they read my expressions, moods, commands. I swear they think they are running the household... maybe they are: they stay home all day and eat and play, while I go to work and go out to buy them food.

  • City by Clifford Simak ( reviews here [bookwormhole.net]) tells an opposite tale. Here are the opening lines.

    ‘These are the stories that the Dogs tell when the fires burn high and the wind is from the north. Then each family circle gathers at the hearthstone and the pups sit silently and listen and when the story’s done they ask many questions:

    “What is Man?” they’ll ask.

    Or perhaps: “What is a city?”

    Or: “What is a war?” ‘ (Page 1.)

    The book was first published in 1952, and has won some awards. I read it as a kid, and still remember the impact it had on me.

  • Humans domesticated dogs.

    Cats domesticated humans.
  • by Type44Q (1233630) on Monday March 04, 2013 @09:27AM (#43066665)

    Finally when times were tough, dogs could have served as an emergency food supply and once humans realized the usefulness of keeping dogs as emergency food, it was not a huge jump to realize plants could be used in a similar way.'

    Consider the venus flytrap: an excellent "guard plant" for defending your lair at night... and when you're thirsty, simply throw it in the juicer." (Maybe they'll even determine that once primitive man discovered how useful oxygen could be for fire, it wasn't a huge jump to realize that it could be inhaled as well...)

  • by slew (2918) on Monday March 04, 2013 @04:20PM (#43071813)

    Replace dog, with a cellphone and you could make a similar case...

    Mostly, it was the cellphones that approched humans. Early cellphones that were clunky and not user friendly would likely be discarded by humans, those that were bold and user friendly were likely to be tolerated. In a few generations, those cellphones that were user friendly became distinctive from their clunky counterparts with touch glass, accelerometers, and retina screens. As cell phone owners, we take for granted that our cellphones can understand our gestures and requests, but that's something that even our closest relatives — chimpanzees and bonobos — can't read our gestures as readily as cellphones can. With this new ability, these cellphones were worth owning. People who had cellphones during a trip would likely have had an advantage over those who didn't. Finally when times were tough, cellphones could have served as an emergency money supply (you can fence them) and once humans realized the usefulness of keeping cellphones as emergency money, it was not a huge jump to realize tablets could be used in a similar way. This is the secret to the genius of cellphones: It's when cellphones join forces with us that they become special. Cellphones may even have been the catalyst for our modern civilization.

    Therefore: Cellphones sought out humans and domesticated us? Stupid.... or is it stupid? ;^)

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