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Good Reads  Mammals  Insectivores to Ungulates  Carnivores  Wolves, Dogs, Foxes & other Canids

Our Oldest Companions The Story of the First Dogs

Popular Science New
By: Pat Shipman(Author)
247 pages, 14 b/w photos, b/w illustrations, 2 b/w maps
Publisher: Belknap Press
Our Oldest Companions
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  • Our Oldest Companions ISBN: 9780674293946 Paperback Nov 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • Our Oldest Companions ISBN: 9780674971936 Hardback Nov 2021 In stock
Selected version: £21.95
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles Recommended titles

About this book

How did the dog become man's best friend? A celebrated anthropologist unearths the mysterious origins of the unique partnership that rewrote the history of both species.

Dogs and humans have been inseparable for more than 40,000 years. The relationship has proved to be a pivotal development in our evolutionary history. The same is also true for our canine friends; our connection with them has had much to do with their essential nature and survival. How and why did humans and dogs find their futures together, and how have these close companions (literally) shaped each other? Award-winning anthropologist Pat Shipman finds answers in prehistory and the present day.

In Our Oldest Companions, Shipman untangles the genetic and archaeological evidence of the first dogs. She follows the trail of the wolf-dog, neither prehistoric wolf nor modern dog, whose bones offer tantalizing clues about the earliest stages of domestication. She considers the enigma of the dingo, not quite domesticated yet not entirely wild, who has lived intimately with humans for thousands of years while actively resisting control or training. Shipman tells how scientists are shedding new light on the origins of the unique relationship between our two species, revealing how deep bonds formed between humans and canines as our guardians, playmates, shepherds, and hunters.

Along the journey together, dogs have changed physically, behaviorally, and emotionally, as humans too have been transformed. Dogs' labor dramatically expanded the range of human capability, altering our diets and habitats and contributing to our very survival. Shipman proves that we cannot understand our own history as a species without recognizing the central role that dogs have played in it.



1. Before Dogs
2. Why A Dog? And Why A Human?
3. What Is Dogginess?
4. One Place Or Two?
5. What Is Domestication?
6. Where Did The First Dog Come From?
7. Interwoven Stories
8. The Missing Dogs
9. Adaptations
10. Surviving In New Ecosystems
11. Why Has The Australian Story Been Overlooked For So Long?
12. The Importance Of Dingoes
13. How Invasion Works
14. A Different Story
15. Heading North
16. To The End Of The Earth

Illustration Credits

Customer Reviews


Pat Shipman is the author of many books, including The Invaders, The Animal Connection, and The Ape in the Tree (with Alan Walker), which won the W. W. Howells Award from the American Anthropological Association. A New York Times notable author, Shipman is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Geographical Society of London.

Popular Science New
By: Pat Shipman(Author)
247 pages, 14 b/w photos, b/w illustrations, 2 b/w maps
Publisher: Belknap Press
Media reviews

"[A] lively tale of dog domestication and migration."
– Josie Glausiusz, Nature

"The erudite Our Oldest Companions makes a remarkable story out of the long partnership between humans and dogs."
Foreword Reviews

"This book is a great read for anyone interested in dogs but is overall of a high enough quality for scholars to enjoy. Shipman explores the genetic, behavioral, and archaeological studies revealing the development of the companion relationship between people and dogs, and brings the human and canid settlement of the Australian region into a global context."
– Susan O'Connor, author of Transcending the Culture–Nature Divide in Cultural Heritage

"When, where, and how did the partnership between dogs and humans begin? Was it an accident? Was it inevitable? Where would we human beings be without our canine colleagues? Pat Shipman's Our Oldest Companions is a must-read, a tour de force drawing together under one proverbial roof what science can tell us to date. A follow-up to her provocative and intriguing The Invaders, Dr. Shipman examines the anthropology and archeology of the dog's transition from wolf to house pet all over the world, from the Australian Outback to north of the Arctic Circle. You'll want to read this book three, four, even five times in order to absorb the abundance of research and ideas presented here."
– Wendy Williams, author of The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

"The latest in a string of authoritative and readable books by Pat Shipman benefits from her well-known scientific knowledge and her great storytelling ability. One of the first times anyone has told how the evidence from archaeology and DNA of Sahul, with its late-appearing dingoes and singing dogs, adds to the human story rather than seeming anomalous. It is the perfect complement to other accounts written with a bias towards Africa, Asia, or Europe. This book, like the dogs that are at its center, covers all the continents where modern people have lived with them. Read it. You will enjoy it."
– Iain Davidson, author of Making Scenes: Global Perspectives on Scenes in Rock Art

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