Effects of Domestication

Although it is doubtful that early humans consciously deliberated upon the reproductive activities of their captive dogs, there certainly existed many unconscious selection pressures. Dogs of special interest or usefulness were probably more carefully managed, fed, and protected than others, thereby enhancing their chances of survival and reproduction. Darwin (1859/1962) reported striking evidence revealing the high regard and protection that dogs enjoyed in some tribal cultures. In support of the existence of such unconscious selection pressures, he reports that the tribal people of Tierra del Fuego would sooner eat one of their old women in times of famine than one of their favorite dogs:

If there exist savages so barbarous as never to think of the inherited character of the offspring of their domestic animals, yet any one animal particularly useful to them, for any special

Wolf Postures
Fig. 1.4. Changes in bodily posture express relative dominance and submission. The dominant wolf can be identified by his upright tail carriage. After Schenkel (1967).

purpose, would be carefully preserved during famines; other accidents, to which savages are so liable, and such choice animals would thus generally leave more offspring than the inferior ones; so that in this case there would be a kind of unconscious selection going on. We see the value set on animals even by the barbarians of Tierra del Fuego, by their killing and devouring their old women, in times of dearth, as of less value than their dogs. (1859/ 1962:51-52)

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