Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Bill Nye Talks to Dogs and Explores the Lessons of Canine Evolution

The Science Guy returns to Big Think to discuss dogs, evolution, and racial myths.

Bill Nye:  I love dogs as much as the next guy.  I talk to dogs.  In preparing this book I spoke with dogs at length.  Maybe I spoke more to dogs than with them.  But they’re all dogs, that’s the thing.  I know we all love our kennel club show we all go there.  We obsess about whether our dog is a pug, Jack Russell terrier mix with corgi overtones and an oaky finish.  An approachable little dog, whatever.  They’re all dogs, okay.  And so the idea of a purebred is just a human construct.  There’s no such thing – in a sense there’s no such thing as a purebred dog.  And that’s – I don’t have a problem with that.  That’s the way it is.  By the way you talk to any veterinarian and they’ll tell you that a mutt is a much healthier dog generally because they have this mix of genes, they’re not inbred, they haven’t made the same gene repeat too many times.  And so it’s funny, it’s charming to me but there’s a great lesson to be learned.  Dogs are a descendent either from wolves or from one ancestor before wolves.  But what you and I think of as a modern wolf may or may not be the direct – what led to a modern dog.

People talk about this as I’m writing the book.  In the next five years it will probably be resolved.  Somebody will come up with a definitive answer to that.  But anyway, apparently these experiments were done with foxes which are just the coolest thing where the foxes that were friendlier, that they were more comfortable around people, they were allowed to approach, they were allowed to use human food.  After just three generations they had floppy scritchable ears and they were much more like dogs.  And it just shows you that dogs are almost certainly a result of a human wolf ancestor interaction.  As we became friends with them they became friends with us and we have a dependency that’s charming.  It’s enriched both the dog lives and the human lives.  It’s really quite an insight and it’s a result of evolution.  The other lesson to be learned from dogs for me is since they’re all dogs it’s just – if you have a dachshund and a Great Dane and they interact, can we say interact on Big Think?  If they interact all you get is a dog.  You don’t get any new thing, new species, you just get a dog.  In the same way if a Papua New Guinean hooks up with a Swedish person all you get is a human.  There’s no new thing you’re going to get.  You just get a human.  Japanese woman jumping the African guy, all you get is a human. They’re all humans.  So this is a lesson to be learned.  There really is, for humankind there’s really no such thing as race.  There’s different tribes but not different races.  We’re all one species.



Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton


 

 

Bill Nye the Science Guy returns to Big Think to discuss evolution, this time from a canine point of view. Nye explains how dogs evolved out of an early human-wolf interaction which today benefits both species. He also draws a comparison between dog breeds and the social construct of race, claiming that both are man-made myths not steeped in science.


Bill's latest book is "Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation."

Malcolm Gladwell live! | Strangers, Storytelling, and Psychology

Join the legend of non-fiction in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists solve the origin of Stonehenge’s sarsen stones

Most of Stonehenge's megaliths, called sarens, came from West Woods, Wiltshire.

Culture & Religion
  • Researchers have known Stonehenge's smaller bluestones came from Preseli Hills, Wales, but the source of its sarsens has remained a mystery.
  • Using chemical analysis, scientists found at matching source at West Woods, approximately 25 kilometer north of the World Heritage Site.
  • But mysteries remain, such as why that site was chosen.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

    China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

    Strange Maps

    What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

    Keep reading Show less

    Why are there so many humans?

    Having lots of kids is great for the success of the species. But there's a hitch.

    Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
    Culture & Religion
    Something curious happened in human population history over the last 1 million years.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast