Where are we now?

The wildlife of our bodies:

I thought it was interesting how Dunn elaborated on the mutualistic relationship we had with cows. By allowing us the milk and preventing others from their grass we used each other to survive and thrive. I had no idea about the past relationship between humans and cows and how much they may have altered our genetics.  I think it is also interesting to see how our personalities were affected by this relationship and vs the hunter gatherer relationship. Dunn brings up how obesity has risen in the past decades especially in the United States. I am interested in the idea about how we could all eat the same thing and not look the same based on our genetic predisposition. How much would we alter? Obviously height and build are not able to be altered but if relatively similar people ate exactly the same how much would their bodies still differ? How do we tailor a diet so that it most efficiently helps the person reach a target weight or size and then further to maintain that reached level? He talks about how milk is in the food pyramid still but most adults aren’t actually able to digest it. What are the top substitutes or what should be there instead that would give the same benefits?

“At some point in their association with humans and human habitats, these animals developed closer social or economic bonds with their human hosts than did other commensals inhabiting this niche. These bonds brought them, eventually, into a domestic partnership with humans. The classic example of an animal that likely traveled this pathway to domestication is the dog, whose domestication is thought to have begun when less wary wolves were drawn to human encampments to scavenge on human refuse (Coppinger and Coppinger 2001, Morey 1994)” This was the most interesting in the different pathways to domestication article because of our past discussion about the wolf domestication process and how some see the dog as a dumbed down version of the wolf. It is interesting to think about how much humans have altered the process of domestication and to think about where these truly domesticated animals would be had they not ever made that human contact. Where would traditionally domesticated animals today be without humans?

Animals sixth sense

The Part wild excerpt for this week was an interesting look into the life of owning a wolf dog hybrid as a pet.  The relationship between Inyo and Terrill is compelling enough to make me want to own a wolf dog myself one day. Out of all the roles Inyo played in Terrill’s life, I was most struck by that of, “protector.” Terrill alludes to a past physically abusive relationship between her and her former boyfriend Eddie that resulted in her fleeing and constantly fearing his return. This is her initial motivation behind wanting a dog, a companion and protector to keep her calm and company while fearing Eddie’s reappearance in her life. While Inyo isn’t the first wolf dog she fell in love with, Inyo and Terrill have the advantage of bonding since Inyo’s birth making their relationship strong. The role of protector interests me because of the gentle nature Inyo has when around Terrill. It is intriguing that this partly, “wild” animal has the capacity to be both aggressive when exposing the role of protector while similarly passive with her owner. This opens up the topic of whether and to what extent animals are able to sense human emotions. For instance, if Eddie was to return and Terrill felt fear, how does Inyo pick up on that emotion and respond to it accordingly.  I used to ride horses in middle school and my instructor always told us not to fear the horses because they could notice this fear and it would make them jumpy and uncomfortable. Whether or not this was a lie to make us more comfortable around the animals or not is up for judgment. I think the science behind understanding the extent animals respond to human emotion is interesting. Animals are far more observant then we give them credit for sometimes. Recently there was an article in the news about a Doberman finding cancer in a woman while she was sleeping. I have attached the link below but what are everyone’s thoughts on the interaction between human emotion and animal observation?



Outsmarting science

Again, while none of my studies involve science I have also been the process of evolution. I enjoyed the scholar article by Russell  outlines three steps  variation, inheritance and selection.  I liked that he took such a complex process and broke it down into three easier requirements.  The article then goes on to talk about some of the problems with organisms somewhat outsmarting our defenses for illness. The example he gave was will tuberculosis but what I immediately thought of was the flu being that it is currently flu season. Every year I hear the debates about whether or not to get a flu shot. Some people believe that the virus is becoming stronger and stronger by us constantly finding immunity to it and others believe it is completely reckless not to protect yourself because of the serious consequences that can arise. I would like to know some of the facts that back both of those arguments up because as of now I always get a flu shot out of habit. How quickly can the virus outsmart the immunity?


“is that with most of the early animals—dogs first, then pigs, sheep, and goats—there was probably a long period of time of unintentional management by humans.” The word domestication “implies something top down, something that humans did intentionally,” he says. “But the complex story is so much more interesting.”

I liked the short national geographic article especially the last quote posted above because when I have thought about domestication I have always associated it with the process humans did to animals instead of a more complicated process suggested by the article. What was the extend of this unintentional management? Are we currently unintentionally domesticating another animal?

I liked Dunn’s writing style better than Bulliet and Clutton-Brock. While I enjoyed more of Clutton – Brock’s scientific analysis, I believe Dunn includes similar references in an easier to understand manner. I also think he raises some interesting points especially with the relationship animals and humans had post weapons. I think he brings a humorous style to his writing while still managing to get his point across in an educated manner. For example, when he says ,” we (humans) are nearly as well packaged for consumption as a hot dog.” He draws attention to how poorly adapted we are to being able to defend ourselves but in an easy joking fashion. I enjoyed reading chapter 11 about how , “each species constructs the world out of the signals received from its senses.” This was interesting to me in a broader view because even amongst humans everyone sees the world differently. In theory with more or less the same capabilities humans should have similar views of the world but that is becoming increasingly opposite in today’s world. More wars, conflicts, and disputes are emerging because of differences of opinion, beliefs, priorities, religion, and desires. Do animals have these same types of conflicts or are we just more intelligent and advanced and therefore these types of disputes only exist within our species? Dunn addresses some of these human differences by saying, “relatively few of the truths we hold to be self-evident are held to be so everywhere.”



Animal Culture

I thought Animals as Domesticates was more of a scientific approach to discussing the history of domestication of animals then found in Bulliet’s excerpts. I thought he reinforced his theories by breaking down scientifically the process involved. Not being much of a science person, some of the explanations went a little over my head but overall I thought it was pretty easy to follow. I also appreciated the reference to Guns, Germs, and Steel now that we are knowledgeable on Diamond’s theory as well. Out of the entire excerpt what struck me the most was the idea of animals having their own, “culture.” This is an idea I have always only associated with humans. While this was not the point of his reference to animal’s cultures the very idea got me thinking about how different cultures raise and treat animals, specifically pets. I spent last summer in Barcelona where I noticed how pretty much no dog owner had a leash on their dog at any time. The majority of dog owners would walk around with their dog obediently following them. The dog would stay right beside the owner and wouldn’t stray even with all the distractions the big city had to offer. The dogs also listened to commands and would wait for their owners to return without needing to be tied up. For example, one woman was walking with her dog beside her until she got to a store. She continued to walk into the store but the dog knew to stop, sit, and wait outside the store until she finished.  The second the woman finished shopping and exited the store the dog was right there waiting where she left him and began walking beside her once again. The idea of animal cultures is interesting but I am also curious to find out how different cultures affect animals and pets. Does the way in which the dog was allowed to walk off leash with her owner make her more of an equal to a human? Is the use of a leash a failure in training the dog? Or is not needing a leash at all show that human is truly superior and even though the dog is “free” it is so domesticated that it won’t leave the side of the human?