"Domestication, she explained, is a process that takes generations and puts selective pressure on abilities to observe, empathize, and communicate across species barriers. Once accomplished, the domestication of animals offers numerous advantages to those with these attributes. "The animal connection is an ancient and fundamentally human characteristic that has brought our lineage huge benefits over time," Shipman said. "Our connection with animals has been intimately involved with the evolution of two key human attributes -- tool making and language -- and with constructing the powerful ecological niche now held by modern humans."
It looks as if Shipman buys into the disputed view that humans domesticated wild wolves by importing pups into their camps - an implausible thesis in itself. As the article quotes her:
Shipman concludes that detailed information about animals became so advantageous that our ancestors began to nurture wild animals -- a practice that led to the domestication of the dog about 32,000 years ago. She argues that, if insuring a steady supply of meat was the point of domesticating animals, as traditionally has been assumed, then dogs would be a very poor choice as an early domesticated species. "Why would you take a ferocious animal like a wolf, bring it into your family and home, and think this was advantageous?" Shipman asks. "Wolves eat so much meat themselves that raising them for food would be a losing proposition."
Well you wouldn't. But wild wolves and dog-like canids might become commensal with humans by inhibiting their fight-flight reactions the better to scavenge around the perimeter of human encampments. More ethologically-minded early humans might then have begun to perceive the potential value of these self-taming animals as guards and hunting allies etc. etc.
Nevertheless her "animal connection" deserves a close look at. As the article says-
"Establishing an intimate connection to other animals is unique and universal to our species," said Shipman, a professor of biological anthropology. Her paper describing the new hypothesis for human evolution based on the tendency to nurture members of other species will be published in the August 2010 issue of the journal