At the height of the ice age, about 20,000 years ago, a man in the barren tundra of Eurasia took a wolf as his shelter and began to tame a beast partner – a dog.
It is not known exactly how the common sky of man and wolf began. The most common idea has been that food scraps accumulated on the outskirts of human settlements would have attracted the bravest wolves near humans. The wolves would have surreptitiously domesticated as if by themselves.
Finnish archaeologist, Food Researcher specialist Maria Lahtinen does not believe in this theory. Ice Age hunter-gatherers traveled long distances and did not have year-round camps with piles of waste in their vicinity.
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“There is no evidence of them. Even in today’s world, there are indigenous peoples who have used to leave parts of their prey as a gift to the wolf. It has never led to the domestication of the wolf, but a more active role is needed, ”says Lahtinen.
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Lahtinen and his colleagues are now presenting Scientific Reports in a study published in the series, a new hypothesis about how wolf taming was successful.
At the heart of the hypothesis is still food, but from a different angle than has been thought. In the harsh conditions of the North, perhaps a situation arose in which man did not have to compete with wolves for food.
On the contrary, the food was beyond your need. It was able to feed wolf pets that traveled by hunting groups throughout the year.
It seems strange that in the harsh conditions of the ice age, there would have been extra food to feed the wolves.
According to Lahtinen, the secret lies in nutritional values. The meat of prey animals was very lean in harsh winters, and man cannot live only on lean meat. We are not thoroughbred carnivores. Our bodies will no longer tolerate a protein-only diet.
A completely meat-free, fat-free and carbohydrate-free diet can, at worst, result in protein poisoning for humans.
There has been talk of “rabbit starvation” in English. There are some known cases in which those who lived with lean rabbit meat alone have contracted unilateral food. The person begins to diarrhea and the forces fade.
“It is known that excess protein leads to health problems even in the short term. The people of the Stone Age were as smart as we are and have certainly noticed this, ”says Lahtinen.
In today’s world, protein poisoning has been encountered mainly by bodybuilders with latent kidney damage and who consume quite a lot of protein. In some cases protein overload has taken people to dialysis.
Wolves, on the other hand, are pure carnivores. Their bodies process protein more efficiently, and giving extra meat to wolves would not have been out of humans.
With this food, man could keep more temperate wolves as his companions all year round, allowing domestication.
It is known from current hunter-gatherers that their diet consists of a maximum of 45% protein. Under this assumption, glacial prey animals, such as wild boars, deer, and whistles, were left with protein well in excess of human need.
“Is it true that there is more food left over that a person could not utilize? Surprising, but this is the case, ”says Lahtinen.
Excess protein is only generated in winter in cold areas where there are no plants or other food sources. Instead of protein, there is a shortage of fat and carbohydrates. This is still true today in the peoples of barren regions.
“Current hunter-gatherers are well versed in exploiting marine fats. The Inuit of Greenland, for example, still give the leanest parts of a seal to their dogs. ”
The diet of Ice Age early dogs has also been inferred from isotope research. Lahtinen specializes in this. Food eaten in ancient times is distinguished by the chemical composition of the remains.
“Isotope analysis has shown that earlier dogs have mainly been fed meat from terrestrial animals, and humans themselves have utilized meat from marine animals, for example. Mammoths have not been given to dogs at all. So the diet of humans and dogs is different, but in the past it has not been possible to explain why. ”
Wolves may well have been attracted to human camps attracted to food. Maybe people have taken orphaned puppies with their curiosity. In any case, a precondition for the domestication of the wolf is a longer coexistence and adequate nutrition for both parties.
“If there is not enough food, pets are put into meat,” Lahtinen says.
The protein hypothesis is also supported by the fact that all the earliest dog remains have been found in Eurasia in areas that were barren tundra during the ice age. In warmer regions, a nutritional imbalance could not arise and humans did not have to give the wolves extra food, the hypothesis suggests.
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