Nurturing Nature

Dog domestication may have given anatomically modern humans an advantage over Neandertals. Studies of modern-day hunters suggest that dogs help people hunt more efficiently and ensure a more plentiful food supply. Here, a Mayangna hunter in Nicaragua works with his dogs to pursue an agouti (a rabbit-sized rodent) in a hollow trunk. The best dogs sometimes help these indigenous hunters bring in more than 50 kilograms of meat per month. Photo, Menuka Scetbon-Didi.

(Click the image above to go to the story in Scientific American):

One of the classic conundrums in paleoanthropology is why Neandertals went extinct while modern humans survived in the same habitat at the same time. (The phrase “modern humans,” in this context, refers to humans who were anatomically—if not behaviorally—indistinguishable from ourselves.) The two species overlapped in Europe and the Middle East between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago; at the end of that period, Neandertals were in steep decline and modern humans were thriving. What happened?

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