I'll admit that I didn't actually read the referenced article until now, just looked at the responses on the forum. The guy is a decent writer and clearly interacts with a number of sources on the topic, though it sounds like they're largely documentaries. His vocabulary (using terms like "monphyly of the species") leads me to believe he has had some degree of education in regards to evolutionary biology, though I can't find specifics on a brief review of the website. So- I don't think he's necessarily an uneducated source, but some of his ideas.
I can't speak with much in depth knowledge on the ideas about human evolution- I do know that there's a split as to whether or not knuckle walking is an ancestral trait of the clade (humans and great apes). I don't know which way general opinion tends to sway on this topic.
I can, however, speak quite a lot to his ideas about dog domestication. There are two main ideas of how dogs were domesticated. The longest-held belief is that we domesticated them intentionally, removing wolf pups during a critical period of socialization and bottle raising/taming them. The more recent, and more widely upheld hypothesis within the science
, is that of "self domestication" proposed by Raymond Coppinger. This idea was spurred by the observation that many settlements have feral dog populations of dogs that have never been owned, produced by dogs that have never been owned. There tends to be a rough size and shape to the dogs, and true "village dog" populations are of true crossbred dogs that have had minimal genetic input from modern breeds.
Coppinger's hypothesis is that some ancient wolves had a lesser "flight distance" towards humans- that is, they were willing to tolerate a closer proximity to humans than others of their species. At human settlements, it is likely there were collections of refuse that would have been edible for the wolves. Those animals with a lesser flight distance- those able to tolerate a closer proximity- were able to make use of these food sources. Over time, there was selective pressure on this population for animals with even lesser flight distance, until presumably they lived within the settlements themselves, of their own volition and without the need to be restrained.
It is important to remember that even the more conservative estimates of when dogs were likely domesticated- the point at which their ancestors began to experience markedly different selective pressures from the rest of the population- are before the agricultural revolution, and more importantly before widespread evidence that human populations were keeping or confining any animals as a food source. Add to that that evidence suggests that there were several separate domestication events in unrelated, isolated populations across the world. It seems unlikely that multiple human populations would all have had the novel idea to capture very young wolf pups and raise them at this time. It is more likely that environmental pressures began pushing humans towards a different style of living, introducing trash heaps closer to human settlements, and multiple populations of a similarly widespread species began to exploit a new food source.
There is also support given to Coppinger's hypothesis by the Belyaev Fox experiment (this seems to be one of the better explanations of the study: https://dogcogblog.wordpress.com/201...ox-experiment/
). Short version: a Russian scientist was exiled to a fur farm in Sibera due to darwinist ideas at a time when the party line of the country followed a different idea of evolution (I believe it was Lamarkian evolution, the idea that traits are introduced over the lifetime of an animal). Scientist then performs a secret experiment under the guise of making the fur foxes easier to handle. Scientist breeds two lines- one with a greater flight distance (less fearful of humans, able to tolerate humans near their cage or with hands in their cage without a less fearful, less aggressive response) and one with lesser flight distance (more fearful of humans, displaying an extremely fearful and aggressive response to human proximity). The line bred for lesser flight distance (ie, less fear) displayed changes very similar to those that had to happen in domestication from wolf to dog within very few generations- change in ear set, introduction of piebald coat patterns, increase in affiliative and appeasement behavior towards humans, change in skull shape towards the juvenile form, etc.
Going back to the originally posted article- the author has two main suppositions.
One is that modern wolves are poor models for ancient ones. He presents this as a novel idea he came up with, and while it is possible he came to this realization on his own, it is not a novel one. John Bradshaw (a widely regarded scientist who largely studies dog cognition) presents this idea in his book Dog Sense
. He supposes that the domestic dog and the modern wolf represent an ongoing divergence within a species. He proposes that ancient wolves diverged into two populations facing opposite selective pressures- one population is that that produced the domestic dog, facing selective pressures for cooperation with humans. The other population- that that produced the modern wolf- faced the opposite selective pressure, facing strong pressure for fear of humans. Thus, the modern wolf is unlikely to reflect the behavior of their ancestors. This is a sound claim.
His other supposition is that because modern wolves who have not been exposed to humans appear to show less fear of humans and are more willing to approach them/interact with them, it would have been easier for ancient humans to capture them and bring them into their homes. While I think his point about wolves who have not been exposed to humans being braver is a good one, I think his claim that this discredits Coppinger's hypothesis is a whole bunch of mallarky. The reason it's unlikely humans captured and tamed wolves has less to do with wolves being fearful and more with the fact that it seems unlikely that humans would have captured and contained a predator (that shows amazing skill in escape) prior to attempting it with a food source and without much gains on the part of the humans. Remember, this was when humans were still highly nomadic and the containment of a large, naturally far-ranging predator would have been made even more difficult than it already is.