Man’s Best Friend

on August 7, 2010

LiveScience: “How Did Dogs Get to Be Dogs?Some say dogs are man’s best friend, and that seems to be true for creationists as well.

The humble domestic dog is an ideal animal for illustrating the power of natural and artificial selection, explaining the “kinds” of organisms God created, and refuting evolution. For instance, natural and artificial selection explain why we find malamutes and other huskies in cold northern climes. And while all dogs are related, huskies have lost the genetic information for short hair, just as Chihuahuas have lost the genetic information for being large—the opposite of the gain in genetic information that molecules-to-man evolution would require. Yet it is clear how all dogs could have descended from common ancestors.

Even dog brains are changing rapidly due to the artificial selection performed by dog breeders.

According to University of Pennsylvania animal–human interaction expert James Serpell, the domestic dog has the most variation in size, shape, and behavior of any living mammal. But dogs remain dogs, and even if one day the descendants of Chihuahuas and Great Danes are considered separate species, they will not be more “advanced” or more highly “evolved” than their predecessors.

Even dog brains are changing rapidly due to the artificial selection performed by dog breeders. University of New South Wales psychiatrist Michael Valenzuela explains, “Canines seem to be incredibly responsive to human intervention through breeding. It’s amazing that a dog’s brain can accommodate such large differences in skull shape through these kinds of changes—it’s something that hasn’t been documented in other species.”

Recent evidence suggests that dogs are more closely related to gray wolves (Canis lupus) and dingoes than to other canids, such as coyotes, foxes, jackals, or red wolves. This is in accord with research in the 1960s that showed that most dog behavior is present in wolves. In addition, the remains of dogs recovered in ancient graves more closely resemble wolves.

Although some canids may have been domesticated before the Flood, modern dogs descend from the dog-kind representatives that were on board the Ark. Based on the genetic evidence, it seems likely that wolves and other genera and species diversified first, and then certain populations of wolves underwent the process of domestication, leading to the dog. Even today, however, the viable offspring of dogs with wolves, dingoes, coyotes, or jackals remind us that the creatures all belong to the same created kind.

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