The Evolvability of Dogs
Posted Wed October 06 2010 by kbehan
An important article, linked below, gives us strong genetic correlation between wolves and the domestic dog. This is important because currently there is a movement in the modern behavioral marketplace to disassociate dogs from wolves, for example; the comment is often made that they are separate species since dogs evolved as scavengers of refuse in dumps around ancient villages and do not manifest pack-like social structure when roaming freely. For one thing, this serves a “political” agenda because it helps modern behaviorism to reinforce its argument against the dominance school of thought which has regained ground in recent years due to Cesar Millan. For many proponents of the positive school if dogs can be shown to not be wild or at least not closely related to wolves, then dog development and behavior is best explained by modern learning theory rather than via a dominance/submissive instinctual makeup. Since Natural Dog Training doesn’t believe that there is any such thing as a thought of dominance or submission in the mind of an animal, it’s therefore not susceptible to a line of reasoning that ends up throwing the poor baby out with her proverbial bathwater for there is indeed a primordial template around which canines socially organize. My argument is that one can’t understand the dog without considering the nature of the prey the wolf evolved to hunt, to wit, a physically superior animal that the wolf evolved to hunt by feel, and that the signature of this template is ever present in absolutely every aspect of a dog’s behavior, most especially how a dog is emotionally responsive to human beings and thereby adaptive to human civilization. The article linked below, shows that there is indeed a strong genetic correlation between domestic dogs and wolves and which accounts for the incredible degree of the domestic dogs’ morphological variability with so many body shapes, sizes, and thus an incredible range of functionality.
The article credits two kinds of mutations in addition to transcription errors (which traditionally have been seen as the engine of natural selection) as the source of the canine species unique capacity to evolve. These are “insertional mutations” and “slippage mutations”; and which the author points out makes the canine species to be highly evolvable. That these new kinds of mutations are still considered to be by way of a random process is the aspect of the thesis I would challenge. In my model, emotion is the operating system of consciousness and it precedes biological forms. These “mutations” suggest to me a means by which the network could distribute genes within a litter, and thus a mechanism by extension to account for the variety of breeds, so that each specific component of the neonatal mind, the mechanism which turns energy into consciousness by reducing a frame of reference to the primordial traits of predator relative to prey, one aspect or another is highlighted in each particular individual of a litter. So the distribution of genes is not by a random process of errors in transcription, but has a “slippage” factor so that it can be malleable according to an energetic template. In other words, the temperamental flaw of each individual will be synced up with the temperamental flaws of its litter mates, just as if they are occupying different cardinal points on a compass face. So because emotionally dogs can readily devolve and then re-evolve in sympatico with what they’re attracted to (i.e. “flip polarities”) this emotional capacity to retain a neonatal mind into adulthood, is simultaneously accompanied by the the great genetic variability that makes dogs highly evolvable. In my view, this genetic capacity is directly related to emotional capacity as opposed to “mutations” according to random influences.
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