Dogs are humans’ oldest companions, DNA shows

Humans likely domesticated dogs more than 11,000 years ago. Dogs were the first animal species to be domesticated, 5,000 years before the invention of agriculture.

Human beings were still hunter-gatherers back then, and yet they domesticated wolves, which are pretty scary carnivores.

If I’m reading this right, all present-day dogs likely descended from a single, relatively small population of wolves. And European dogs were a diverse population 4,000-5,000 years ago, but present-day European breeds are descended from a relatively small population.

Cats became pets when humans settled down to farm, in fixed communities, a little more than 6,000 years ago. Cats were probably useful for controlling vermin attracted by the waste around dense settlements.

I am endlessly fascinated by how little time human beings have been civilized, and had written history, and I wonder at what came during that much longer period for which there is no record.

Paul Rincon at the BBC

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