Kermit Snelson on Sat, 13 Apr 2002 01:08:00 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> the canine origins of media theory

Caveman's best friend

_The Week_, 5-11 April 2002 (Vol. 2; Issue 50)

Humans may have taught dogs to sit, stay, and heel, but canines have
taught us a few tricks as well, say Australian researchers.  Dr. Paul
Tacon, of the Australian Museum, and Dr. Colin Pardoe, an Adelaide
bio-archaeologist, theorize that dogs may have sparked human interest in
written symbols and taught us to hunt in packs.

"Evidence suggests domestication of dogs was a two-way street," they tell
_Nature Australia_.  "That led to profound changes in the biological and
behavioral evolution of both species."

Humans began their relationship with dogs as long as 130,000 years ago,
when wolves began sniffing around human campsites for food.  People
watched their new friends mark their territory by urinating on rocks, and
adopted a similar habit.  However, because humans had a less developed
sense of smell, they chose visual means of marking territory, drawing
symbols on stones.

Watching dogs also taught humans to form intimate social ties with
nonrelatives and people of the same sex.  Chimpanzees, our closest
relatives, do not socialize with nonkin and same-sex animals, but dogs do.

Tacon expects his theory to arouse controversy.  "There will be some
opposition," he says.  "The cat people won't like it."

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