Evolution of the Dog Family

It seems that dogs have been man’s best friend since the beginning of time, but in reality, it isn’t true. While the lives of canines and humanity have been interlaced for quite a while, it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of work to domesticate dogs into partners and pets. It’s believed that they started out as wolves in the wild and there wasn’t always the current number of breeds in the world.

The Evolution of the Domestic Dog

It’s known that dogs have been domesticated for quite a while, but it’s not all that clear how it originally happened way back in the beginning. The oldest known fossil belonging to a domesticated dog dates back to around 14,000 years ago. However, there is no actual fossil link between ancient wolves and the smaller dogs that were discovered from the same time period, lending some questions to whether these smaller dogs were domesticated wolves or a separate but related breed of animal. In fact, the origin of dogs (not wolves) has been quite a mystery. There are theories that man took wolf cubs from wolves and domesticated them anywhere from 10,000 years ago to 140,00 years ago but the exact time frame is still unconfirmed.

  • The Domestic Dog: An investigation into the process of domestication in dogs and a discussion into the possible direct ancestor of the domestic dog are included on this page.
  • Evolution of the Dogs: A look at dog evolution with information on high-tech molecular dating methods used in determining the chronological and evolutionary relationships in canines is provided on this page.
  • The Dog Through Evolution: Information on this page includes a variety of information on the general characteristics of dogs, archaeological records of the earliest ancestors of dogs, and the domestication of dogs.
  • Origin and Thinking: This page shows detailed information on the history of dog domestication, dogs verses wolves, the effects domestication has on the socialization of dogs, and much more.

Evolution of Wild Dogs

Wolves are believed to have evolved from small primitive carnivores known as miacids. These animals existed 50 million years ago. Wild dogs or wolves most likely originated in Asia, around 700,000 years ago. Fossils have been found to support this theory. The dire wolf, the largest type of wolf, was believed to have evolved in North America at an even earlier date. The dire and grey wolves shared a continent until most large creatures – dire wolves included – went extinct around 16,000 years ago. Scientists believe that wild dogs came from these wolves, before they became domesticated dogs.

Interspecific Hybridization

Interspecific hybridization is the breeding process that takes place between different species. For instance, scientists believe that red wolves are the product of natural interspecific hybridization between grey wolves and coyotes. Many of today’s dog breeds are the result of this type of breeding. Pure breeds from different dog breeds are bred together and the puppies born are considered hybrids with traits from both of their parents. The phrase “designer dog” is often used in reference to breeding that is done in this manner.

  • Dog Evolution and Structure: This page provides a large amount of information on various dog breeds and the possible reasons for their breeding in an easily understandable question and answer format.
  • Dogs and Wolves: A look at certain dog breeds and how they probably evolved from grey wolves is included on this website.
  • History and Evolution of Dogs: This page provides information on the evolution of dogs in an FAQ format.

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