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RAMBLINGS: Survival of the friendliest

As far as the evolution of dogs and humans, “survival of the friendliest” may have supplanted “survival of the fittest.”

A huge supporter of this theory is Brian Hare, professor in the Department Of Evolutionary Anthropology and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. Hare and his research were recently featured in a segment of CBS Sunday Morning.

Professor Hare maintains that there are no two species of animals any more symbiotic than humans and dogs.

Going back thousands of years, some wolves began to attach themselves to humans because of humans leaving scraps of food for them and the “friendliest factor” which developed between the friendliest humans and the friendliest wolves through time.

Domesticated dogs eventually broke from ancestral wolves and started displaying characteristics that have become far removed from the characteristics of wolves.

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Wolf pups have nowhere the trust sense that dog pups have, Hare maintains. Film clips of young dog pups and wolf pups show distinct differences not caused by learning or training.

In one clip, a caretaker of the wolf and dog pups that are kept separate, points to a bowl of food to coax the pups to go to that particular bowl. The dog pups had no problem going to the bowl that was pointed out to them while the wolf pups did not approach the food bowl.

Geneticists have even now discovered similarities in the genetic makeup of humans and dogs because of their mutual evolution. Certain types of cancer are found most often in humans and dogs than in other species, which has led to collaboration of veterinary cancer research and human cancer research.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Hare’s research is something we should give thought to in this time of such division in our country. The primitive human tribes from thousands of years ago that were able to get along with more aggressive tribes survived and flourished. Again, “the survival of the friendliest.”

Helen Cox is a former journalist and educator in Richmond County.