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Archaeology news: Domestication of wolves may have come from overabundance of meat | Science | News


Dogs may have come to be after humans fed wolves their excess meat. Between 29,000 and 14,000 years ago, humans and wolves coexisted in northern Europe, which was in the midst of an Ice Age. As such, there was less vegetation around, and both were feeding on an abundance of meat.

This prey provided so much food that the ancient human had a surplus.

As a result, the humans may have begun feeding their scraps to newly captured wolf pups.

Over the course of generations, these wolves became domesticated and gave rise to dogs.

The new research, led by the Finnish Food Authority in Helsinki, is based on the idea that in the winter game was much leaner – which is higher in protein.

The human liver cannot handle an overabundance of protein, and with so much to spare, they fed the meat to the wolf pups.

In the winters especially, there was so much leftover meat it allowed the wolf pups to be more at the mercy of the humans which fed them.

These wolf pups would eventually become friendly, docile and accustomed to humans.

The research published in the journal Nature said: “Humans are not fully adapted to a carnivorous diet; human consumption of meat is limited by the liver’s capacity to metabolise protein.

“Contrary to humans, wolves can thrive on lean meat for months.

“We present here data showing that all the Pleistocene archaeological sites with dog or incipient dog remains are from areas that were analogous to subarctic and arctic environments.

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“Our calculations show that during harsh winters, when game is lean and devoid of fat, Late Pleistocene hunters-gatherers in Eurasia would have a surplus of animal-derived protein that could have been shared with incipient dogs.

“Following this initial period, incipient dogs would have become docile, being utilized in a multitude of ways such as hunting companions, beasts of burden and guards as well as going through many similar evolutionary changes as humans.”





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