The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Anatomically modern humans as a ‘self-domesticated’ species: insights from ancestral wolves and descendant dogs


1Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa, 2Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri, 3Department of Anthropology, Iowa State University

Saturday Morning, Ballroom C Add to calendar

Anatomically modern humans are recognized in the fossil record principally by a retraction and diminution of the facial skeleton, and other derived metric or discrete craniofacial features. There are several mechanistic models for this important morphological shift, but no consensus on which explanation, if any, is most accurate. A promising model for this shift argues that anatomically modern humans represent a ‘self-domesticated’ species where selection for behavioral modifications in the social environment led to developmental timing alterations, which then produced a cascade of diagnostic morphological shifts. Dog domestication from ancestral wolves provides a particularly useful comparative framework for this model. We used a 3D digitizer to collect 84 landmarks on associated crania and mandibles from 21 wolves (C. lupus: subspecies lupus, lycaon, and rufus) and 19 recent dogs (C. familiaris) from the Field Museum, Chicago, and 19 prehistoric dogs (ca. 5,000 years BP) from the Kentucky Green River sites (U. Kentucky). For each canid specimen we also collected up to 23 postcranial measures reflecting overall body size and proportions. We subsequently compared these canid data to homologous landmarks and measurements collected on genus Homo fossils using a variety of geometric morphometric, multivariate and univariate procedures. Our results document an array of apparently parallel craniofacial changes occurring during both the archaic-to-modern human and wolf-to-dog evolutionary transitions. These results, considered in light of previous experimental work in other animal models (especially domesticated foxes), provide strong support for the ‘self-domestication’ model in anatomically modern humans.

comments powered by Disqus