From The Guardian:
How hunting with wolves helped humans outsmart the Neanderthals
Forty thousand years ago in Europe our ancestors formed a crucial and lasting alliance that enabled us to finish off our evolutionary cousins, the Neanderthals
Modern humans formed an alliance with wolves soon after we entered Europe, argues Shipman. We tamed some and the dogs we bred from them were then used to chase prey and to drive off rival carnivores, including lions and leopards, that tried to steal the meat.
“Even if you brought down a bison, within minutes other carnivores would have been lining up to attack you and steal your prey,” said Shipman. The answer, she argues, was the creation of the human-wolf alliance. Previously they separately hunted the same creatures, with mixed results. Once they joined forces, they dominated the food chain in prehistoric Europe – though this success came at a price for other species. First Neanderthals disappeared to be followed by lions, mammoths, hyenas and bison over the succeeding millennia. Humans and hunting dogs were, and still are, a deadly combination, says Shipman.
The idea is controversial, however, because it pushes back the origins of dog domestication so deeply into our past. Most scientists had previously argued the domestication of dogs, from tamed wolves, began with the rise of agriculture, 10,000 years ago, though other research has suggested it began earlier, around 15,000 years ago. More.
This thesis is similarly vulnerable to the first Neanderthal burial that turns up a wolfhound skeleton (killed at the graveside, to assist the departed in the next life?). Don’t laugh. In some ancient cultures,servant-status humans were killed and buried or buried alive with their masters. There are also early Neolithic dog and wolf burials. (And we though the pet cemetery was something new?)
See also: Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents
A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?
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