Research press release


Scientific Reports

Archaeology: Sharing leftover meat may have contributed to early dog domestication

最終氷期の終わり頃(2万9000~1万4000年前)、厳しい冬の間に、ヒトが食べ残しの赤身肉をオオカミに与えたことが、イヌの家畜化の初期段階に関係していた可能性のあることを示した論文が、Scientific Reports に掲載される。

今回、Maria Lahtinenたちの研究チームは、単純なエネルギー含有量の計算を行い、2万9000~1万4000年前に人間が狩猟対象にしていたと考えられていて、オオカミの典型的な被食種でもあった動物(ウマ、ヘラジカ、シカなど)の肉のうち、ヒトが食べ残した分のエネルギー量を推計した。Lahtinenたちは、もしオオカミとヒトが厳しい冬に同じ動物の狩猟を行っていたのであれば、ヒトは、オオカミを家畜化するのではなく、競争を減らすために殺していただろうという仮説を立てた。計算の結果、ヒトが捕食していた全ての動物種(ただしイタチなどのイタチ科動物を除く)によってもたらされるタンパク質量はヒトが消費可能な量を上回ることが明らかになり、Lahtinenたちは、ヒトが余り物の赤身肉をオオカミに与えていた可能性があり、それによって獲物を巡る争いが減ったと考えている。


Humans feeding leftover lean meat to wolves during harsh winters may have had a role in the early domestication of dogs, towards the end of the last ice age (14,000 to 29,000 years ago), according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Maria Lahtinen and colleagues used simple energy content calculations to estimate how much energy would have been left over by humans from the meat of species they may have hunted 14,000 to 29,000 years ago that were also typical wolf prey species, such as horses, moose and deer. The authors hypothesized that if wolves and humans had hunted the same animals during harsh winters, humans would have killed wolves to reduce competition rather than domesticate them. With the exception of Mustelids such as weasels, the authors found that all prey species would have supplied more protein than humans could consume, resulting in excess lean meat that could be fed to wolves, thus reducing the competition for prey.

Although humans may have relied on an animal-based diet during winters when plant-based foods were limited, they were probably not adapted to an entirely protein-based diet and may have favoured meat rich in fat and grease over lean, protein-rich meat. As wolves can survive on a solely protein-based diet for months, humans may have fed excess lean meat to pet wolves, which may have enabled companionship even during harsh winter months. Feeding excess meat to wolves may have facilitated co-living with captured wolves, and the use of pet wolves as hunting aids and guards may have further facilitated the domestication process, eventually leading to full dog domestication.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-78214-4


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