As many might assume, wolves were the first dogs before ours. Domestic dogs originally come from a group of wolves who joined hunter gatherers in Europe as early as 32,000 years ago. These hounds would have been great for helping humans hunt large prey or for scavenging dead carcasses for food.
This is how they were originally known to help humans. It is thought that from this time on, they became a staple to man, and grew to be the domesticated dogs we know today. Domestication itself is defined as a population of animals adapting to humans in an enclosed environment, with genetic changes happening over several generations.
The issue of exactly when the switch over happened from ancient wolf ancestors to domesticated dogs, however, is still in the air. Some scientists believe it was about 10,000 years ago. This was when wolves were found hunting for food in heaps of traps, and humans tamed them as their own during the time of the Agricultural Revolution.
Others believe that wolves and dogs separated in Asia about 32,000 years ago. Because dogs and their ancestors didn’t have much time to separate, according to their DNA samples, it’s likely that the latter is false. The fact that DNA mixes down the line provides confusion for scientists who research the issue as well.
Scientists assume that because both animals shared a common ancestor between 18,000 and 32,000 years ago, the actual domestication of dogs occurred within this time frame. The oldest fossils of dogs were found about 15,000 years ago in Europe; in Asia, only 13,000 years ago. Scientists are careful not to give exact origins or dates because fossil evidence points in either direction. They also believe, like the pig, the dog was originally found in many more places than one.
The first dog fossils were found in the United States around 9,200 years ago. The fossils were that of a breed originating from Eurasia and were found in Hinds Cave in Texas. The latest discovered fossils were found about 1,200 years ago in Canada. These dogs were originally buried with humans and around the living areas of humans, much like we see today.
While the battle of where exactly our mates were founded rages on, one thing remains the same: our love for our fluffy friends. Dogs continue to be a household favorite in homes in America, as well as across the world. They are a staple to us humans, who are really living in a dog’s world!