From Wild Wolf to Designer Labradoodle – National Geographic Channel’s And Man Created Dog Follows The Genetic Journey Of The Most Diverse Species On The Planet
(WASHINGTON, D.C. – JULY 19, 2010) Immense Great Danes and diminutive Chihuahuas. Curly-haired poodles and streamlined greyhounds. Dogs are in fact the most diverse mammals on the planet. For comparison, if humans were as varied as dogs, we would range in height up to 22 feet tall and could weight more than 1,000 pounds. It’s no accident that dogs evolved this way, as humans have been selectively breeding them to serve our needs as laborer, companion, hunter, herder and warrior, as well as to suit our aesthetic fancy.Now, in the ultimate canine ancestral story, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) explores the genetic journey from wolf to dog in And Man Created Dog, premiering Sunday, August 8, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. This two-hour, high definition special will take viewers back 100,000 years to meet the “mother of all dogs” and trace the evolutionary journey of her descendents over the eons, even as we evolved ourselves – from cave dwellers to modern humans. Through cave art and ancient artifacts, we see that dogs have been our partners and companions since the ice age and helped us forge civilizations out of the wilderness.
When out wandering hunter-gatherer ancestors first took into their camps the scavenging “prototype” dog, they began a journey that would not only change the dog from a close descendent of the wolf into a useful servant and companion but would also clear the way for our own species to survive, settle down and thrive. Through artificial selection – breeding the traits we found useful in dogs – humans created animals that empowered us to move our belongings, hunt our food and protect our llivestock, crops and our very lives.
And Man Created Dog traces out complex relationship with dogs, a bond unique in the animal kingdom. Find out what scientists are learning about dogs’ unique ability to communicate with humans, and how powerful brain chemicals work to cement our affection for each other. See examples of how we employed genetic manipulation over eons to help shape dogs’ senses, bodies and personalities to develop working dogs of all shapes and sizes. Dogs have protected our herds and homes for thousands of years. Many homes in the ruins of Pompeii have mosaic panels with Latin inscription “cave canum” – literally “beware of dog.” The rottweiler name stems from the Roman Empire, whose people used the breed to drive their livestock.
The process of selective breeding continued through time, and still continues today. In Italy, Newfoundlands are trained as lifeguards – jumping out of helicopters to rescue stranded swimmers. In Kansas, border collies scare off birds at an Air Force base to prevent them from striking a plane, the cause of the infamous U.S. Airways crash in the Hudson River. And in Alaska, the original Arctic sled dogs, the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian husky, are mixed with other breeds such as retrievers and hounds to create a hybrid capable of winning the Iditarod and other sport races.
And Man Created Dog will examine how some breeds have been negatively impacted by selective breeding, and how new understanding is helping give these breeds a second chance. For instance, the bulldog’s signature bow-legged stance and short snout are actually genetic mutations engineered to meet our aesthetic desires; these characteristics pose health risks to the breed. Other purebred dogs, such as German shepherds and retrievers, also have inherited health problems.
In the beginning … there was wolf and prehistoric man. But then man created dog in our image – to satisgy our needs and desires – and dogs in turn helped shape us, our cultures and societies. Since we first came together many thousands of years ago, we have never been apart. And Man Created Dog traces the history of this extraordinary relationship.
And Man Created Dog is produced by Evergreen Films Inc., for NGC. For Evergreen Films Inc., executive producer is Fran LoCascio and director is Pierre de Lespinois. For NGC, executive producer is Chris Valentini, senior vice president of production is Michael Cascio and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns.
Visit natgeotv.com/mananddog for more information.
About National Geographic Channel
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, the NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary in January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition. NGC has carriage with all the the nation’s major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available in more than 70 million homes. For more information, please visit www.natgeotv.com.