NATURE’s two-part special Dogs That Changed the World tells the epic story of the wolf’s evolution, how “man’s best friend” changed human society and how we in turn have radically transformed dogs.
From the tiniest Chihuahua to the powerful and massive English Mastiff, modern domesticated dogs come in a bewildering array of shapes and sizes, with an equally diverse range of temperaments and behaviors. And yet, according to genetics, all dogs evolved from the savage and wild wolf — in a transformation that occurred just 15,000 years ago.
In Part One, “The Rise of the Dog,” you’ll learn about how the domestication of dogs might have taken place, including the theory of biologist Raymond Coppinger that it was the animals themselves — and human trash — that inspired the transformation. The genetic analysis of Peter Savolainen of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden has placed the origins of domesticated dogs — and those of the first dog — in East Asia. You’ll also discover 14 dog breeds that controversial genetic studies show are the most ancient — and the best living representatives of the ancestors to all living dogs.
Watch Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 7pm.