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Dog Domestication

Study sheds new light on the origins of dogs

Dog domestication is not something new. According to a new DNA analysis , dog domestication has been shown to date back at least 30,000 years. The samples came from a diverse range of fossils from a total of eighteen dogs and wolves ranging between 1,000 and 36,000 years old and the sample data was from more than eight countries. The results were compared to the DNA of 77 modern dog breeds and 49 wolves.

Initially geneticists believed that dog’s domestication started after agriculture was developed. However, this study suggests that it happened much earlier and in hunter-gatherer communities, between 18,000 and 32,000 ago. Furthermore, in the period from 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, domesticated dogs appear to have been a central part of societies, before farming began.

Until now there have been arguments between geneticists supporting the view that dogs originated in southern China and those that believe they originated in the Middle East. It is interesting to see that even the origin of dogs has become a matter of competition between nations as to who can claim to be the first!  However, this DNA study, which was carried out by geneticists Robert Wayne and Olaf Thalmann, suggests that the origins of domesticated dogs probably originated in Europe and come from an extinct form of grey wolf.

The scientists created family trees from the data collected by sequencing the complete genomes of mitochondria from the samples. Of course other geneticists have objected to the idea that just mitochondrial DNA is enough to come up with such a conclusion, since it only takes data from the female side.

One intriguing question, which the latest study has not addressed, is why and how ‘primitive’ hunters of 32,000 BC domesticated dogs? We need to remember that conventional archaeology repeatedly underestimates the capabilities of our ancestors, even in the face of more and more research to the contrary.

By John Black

 

Comments

Great article--where can I get the study?

ancient-origins's picture

Hi there. You need to subscribe to the science magazine (http://www.sciencemag.org). Once you subscribe then you will have access to the study which is the first link of the article.

John

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