Longreads

John Bradshaw | Excerpt adapted from The Animals Among Us: How Pets Make Us Human | Basic Books | October 2017 | 18 minutes (4,861 words)

We have no direct evidence proving that people living prior to 10,000 bce had pets. Any kept by hunter-gatherers must have included species tamed from the wild, which would leave little archaeological evidence: their remains would be impossible to distinguish from those of animals killed for food or kept for other — perhaps ritualistic — purposes.

Since we don’t have evidence from the prehistoric past, we must look to that gleaned from the past century. A remarkable number of hunter-gatherer and small-scale horticultural societies that persisted into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in remote parts of the world — Amazonia, New Guinea, the Arctic, and elsewhere — give us insight into the behaviors of earlier Stone Age societies. We can start by asking…

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