How Dogs Changed Humanity and the World

If you’re a dog parent or dog lover, you must check out one of PBS’s Nature programs, Dogs That Changed the World, which traces the history of the dog from its genetic roots as a wolf and how they essentially changed the way we evolved.

“From the tiniest Chihuahua to the powerful and massive English Mastiff, modern domesticated dogs come in a bewildering array of shapes and sizes, with an equally diverse range of temperaments and behaviors. And yet, according to genetics, all dogs evolved from the savage and wild wolf – in a transformation that occurred just 15,000 years ago.” ~Nature Website

The first part of the program, The Rise of the Dog, which has aired over the last couple of weeks on Boston’s WGBH stations, is a fascinating exploration of how dogs have evolved and helped shape human life. It looks at theories of how the wolf moved out of the forest to become domesticated. Biologist Raymond Coppinger argues that it was the animals themselves – and human trash – that sparked the transformation. Swedish geneticist Peter Savolainen, tracing the dog’s mitochondrial DNA, believes that the first dogs appeared in East Asia.

The second section, Dogs by Design, which will be airing over the next few weeks, focuses on how humans have shaped dog evolution with selective breeding to enhance particular characteristics like the urge to herd or hunt, to dig, and to guard. It’s worth watching!
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