New Scientist: Monkeys “look like” they are domesticating wolves
|October 11, 2018||Posted by News under Animal minds, Ecology, Human evolution, Intelligent Design|
Then that is the monkeys’ mistake, not the wolves’:
In the alpine grasslands of eastern Africa, Ethiopian wolves and gelada monkeys are giving peace a chance. The geladas – a type of baboon – tolerate wolves wandering right through the middle of their herds, while the wolves ignore potential meals of baby geladas in favour of rodents, which they can catch more easily when the monkeys are present.
The unusual pact echoes the way dogs began to be domesticated by humans and was spotted by primatologist Vivek Venkataraman, at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, during fieldwork at Guassa plateau in the highlands of north-central Ethiopia.
We do not in fact know how humans first domesticated wolves.
Dogs were domesticated between 40,000 and 11,000 years ago, and although the process remains shrouded in mystery, one hypothesis is that it started when wolves began following roaming human groups to take advantage of the large carcasses they left behind after hunts.
That may have encouraged other carnivores to keep their distance, offering a benefit for the humans, too. Eventually wolves may have even helped humans hunt better and outcompete other hominins, too.
Could something similar now be happening with Ethiopian wolves and geladas on African highlands? Bob Holmes, “Monkeys’ cosy alliance with wolves looks like domestication” at New Scientist
Who knows? As Holmes admits, we don’t know very much about human domestication of canines but whatever happened, it probably involved abstract reasoning, which the geladas are not likely to be doing. There were burial customs for dogs 30,000 years ago. Originally, humans may well have stolen puppies, who would be that much easier to domesticate if they grew up thinking that all human are alpha dogs.
Life would be so simple if the geladas could be shown to be entering their very own Stone Age. But it seems likely that they coexist with the wolves in an ecology on which neither group reflects much. That’s just as well for the geladas; the supply of rodents is hardly guaranteed.
See also: Apes can be generous Are they just like humans then?
Are intelligence tests unfair to apes?
Are apes entering the Stone Age?