Friday, June 29, 2007

Who's tamed who?

Firedoglake was discussing this news about Mitt Romney. Whatever their politics, a lot of people do not at all like the story of him loading the family dog into a cage strapped onto the top of the car for a long road trip.

Well, that's Mitt's problem. But a commenter at FDL quoted this from a New York Times article:

Unlike other domestic animals, which were tamed by people, cats probably domesticated themselves, which could account for the haughty independence of their descendants.

My thoughts on that:

It’s now thought that when a species of animal is domesticated, over time and many generations its brain shrinks a bit. If the critters no longer have to search for food because humans are feeding them, the “search for food” function of the brain atrophies. This is normal. Evolution. Life adapts.

Paleontologists are finding evidence showing that when wolves started hanging with humans and turning into dogs, both their brains AND ours shrank a bit. Each species specialized in tasks the other couldn't do as well, like sniffing out prey (dogs) or hitting it with a spear (us), and life adapted. We both changed.

In other words, dogs and humans simultaneously domesticated each other. We are two symbiotic species, and neither would be what it is without the other. I look at my dog sleeping on my expensive leather couch, and not only does this not surprise me, but I suspect I know who got the better end of the deal.

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