In my pursuit to understand Bo better, I'm reading a book that Barak gave me called How to Speak Dog. It's really a great book about how to to communicate with your dog. Stanley Coren makes an interesting assertion about our co-evolution with dogs.
Thanks Bo!Stanley CorenIt is well established that the primitive humans who survived to become our forefathers formed an early relationship with dogs. Compare our success to that of the Neanderthals, who never got along with dogs, and who ultimately died out. Some evolutionary theorists have suggested that the survival of our ancestors had to do with the fact that our cooperative partnership with dogs made us more efficient hunters than Neanderthals2. With the dog's more acute sensory systems, finding game was easier.
Here is where the serious speculation begins. These theorists suggest that since these early humans now had dogs to do the tracking, they no longer needed the facial structures that would allow them to detect faint scents. This, then, allowed our early ancestors to evolve more flexible facial features, which were capable of shaping more complex sounds. In other words, our prehistoric association with dogs, who would do the smelling for us, gave us the ability to create speech.
2. J.M. Allman, Evolving Brains. New York: Freeman, 1999.