Cover image for A dog in the cave : the wolves who made us human
A dog in the cave : the wolves who made us human
Physical Description:
ix, 246 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1400 L Lexile
Explores the connection between dogs and humans from hunter-gatherer partners to modern day pets, focusing on how humans have influenced dogs' evolution and raising new questions about the species' shared future.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 636.7 FRY 1 1
Book 636.7 FRY 0 1
Book 636.7 FRY 1 1
Book 636.7 FRY 1 1
Book 636.7 FRY 0 1
Book TEEN 636.7 FRY 1 1

On Order



We know dogs are our best animal friends, but have you ever thought about what that might mean?

Fossils show we've shared our work and homes with dogs for tens of thousands of years. Now there's growing evidence that we influenced dogs' evolution--and they, in turn, changed ours. Even more than our closest relatives, the apes, dogs are the species with whom we communicate best.
Combining history, paleontology, biology, and cutting-edge medical science, Kay Frydenborg paints a picture of how two different species became deeply entwined--and how we coevolved into the species we are today.

Author Notes

Kay Frydenborg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two dogs. She's the author of numerous books for young readers including Chocolate , Wild Horse Scientists, They Dreamed of Horses, and Animal Therapist .

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Incorporating insights from paleontology, biology, and the social sciences, Frydenborg (Chocolate) offers a fascinating study of the ways in which a relationship with canines has been pivotal to humanity's development. Frydenborg structures the narrative around the 1994 discovery of the fossilized footprints of a prehistoric child in a cave in Southern France. Alongside the boy's prints were those of a large, wolflike dog-arguably, the boy's companion. This discovery, along with developments in canine science, suggested that humans have been living with dogs for thousands of years longer than previously believed. Canine studies, Frydenborg explains, have taken this notion even further, with the theory that wolves and humans coevolved: "Humans and dogs, living so closely together over time, evolved specialized brain capacities that complemented one another perfectly." She also explores dog psychology, with a particular emphasis on the question of whether dogs possess "theory of mind." Sidebars and color photographs supplement and expand on the central narrative, which is all but certain to leave readers thinking about their dogs, and themselves, in entirely new ways. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

"Humankind's best friend," as Frydenborg amends the phrase, has been relatively understudied in scientific circles, but recent developments--particularly the 1994 discovery of dog tracks that rewrote the evolutionary timeline, DNA testing that allows us to more fully explore the connections between modern species and ancient ones, and MRI technology that allows us to monitor brain activity--have led to an increase in dog research across a variety of fields and disciplines. Those discoveries help us wonder, speculate, and understand how dogs evolved from wolves and how those dogs also helped us evolve into humans, a complicated dance of a process known as coevolution. After setting the stage, Frydenborg goes back for a deep dive into some of these disciplines, most notably paleontology, genetics, and psychology, but she also takes frequent digressions into history and biology, some confined to sidebars, others woven into the main narrative. Evident throughout are the author's passion and curiosity. Full-color photographs (not seen) are interspersed, while a glossary, source notes, a bibliography, and an index are appended. jonathan hunt(c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* With vast scope and thorough research, Frydenborg (Wild Horse Scientists, 2012) explores the evolution of humans and their most constant companions. Dogs, she says, have been our most enduring partners since our earliest days, and as we tamed and domesticated them, they changed the course of our own development. Despite our long relationship with dogs, this coevolution has been little discussed. Frydenborg begins in the Paleolithic era, explaining how fossils and cave paintings depict the first dogs, before moving on to examine the genetic history of wolves (and their fraught history with humans), the circumstances that may have led to the early partnering of canines and humans, and the ways in which dogs may have kept ancestors of the modern human from going extinct, as the Neanderthals did. Occasional insert sections provide details on some of the more scientific processes (radiocarbon dating, MRIs) and historical and modern anecdotes (the dog fancy that swept Victorian England; a wolf named Romeo who became friendly with residents of an Alaskan town), and full-color photos offer glimpses of scientific processes and ancient artwork, alongside images of wolves and dogs today. The tone is inviting and accessible, the topic high interest, and the research impeccable. This narrative blend of history and science belongs on all shelves.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2017 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-It may come as no surprise that our canine companions descended from wolves, but this title describes a coevolution and cooperation with humans that may have begun much earlier than scientists once estimated. The 1994 discovery and carbon dating of tracks of a wolflike dog and a boy in France's Chauvet Cave reveal that humans and dog companions walked together 26,000 years ago. This is an unfolding story, leading readers through the basics of evolutionary science and how findings lead to anthropological theories. The variations in breeds today are explained in terms of artificial vs. natural selection. American paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman suggests that wolves may have helped modern human ancestors survive the Paleolithic era, when Neanderthals could not, by teaching humans how to delegate pack responsibilities of protection, scouting, and babysitting. In turn, wolves learned to follow a human's gaze. The investigative puzzle emphasizes the importance of asking questions and collaborating with scientists from other fields to come up with answers. Color-blocked pages offer explanations of scientific processes, profile field-related tools, and relay asides about canine fanciers and 9/11 rescue dogs. The latter part of the book focuses on the intelligence, personality, and trainability of dogs and on current research on a shared community of disease-preventing microbes that shine a positive light on "sloppy dog kisses." VERDICT This is narrative nonfiction at its best-high interest and engaging, with meaty interdisciplinary science exploration. A top choice for tweens and teens.-Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A compelling look at the origins of and the ongoing unique relationship between humans and dogs.In what's at once a clear presentation of the science that explains the special connection between two species and a history of that science, Frydenborg puts forth information that should appeal to readers of all persuasions. She looks at both the evolution of wolves and humankind's earliest ancestors for the clues that helped scientists understand how the highly social wolves came to be domesticated by humans, who began as solitary predators. By explaining various branches of science, including paleontology and genetics, and techniques such as radiocarbon dating and MRI scans, the author guides readers to an understanding of this unfolding story. She even includes the role of psychology for both. There are interesting sidelights, such as superstitions about wolves and Darwin's love of dogs, which fueled his interests and the development of the British and American kennel clubs. The tale never flags and is enriched by photographs and sidebar information that very rarely disrupts the telling. One such insert is a highly useful description of the scientific method and what the author calls "the value of what-if." Backmatter includes a glossary, chapter notes, selected bibliography, internet resources, and index (not seen). This lively blend of science and history is an outstanding example of narrative nonfiction. (Nonfiction 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Table of Contents

A Boy and His Dogp. v
1 Close Encounters of the Canine Kindp. 1
2 Written in the Bonesp. 23
3 Wolf-Dogs: Those Skulls Are How Old?p. 53
4 A Meeting of Mindsp. 73
5 Written in the Genesp. 131
6 The Dog on the Couch: Canine Psychologistsp. 165
7 A Wolf on the Bedp. 205
Glossaryp. 234
Notesp. 236
Selected Bibliographyp. 239
Internet Resourcesp. 240
Acknowledgmentsp. 242
Indexp. 243