Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Origins of Domestic Dogs

The Origins of Domestic Dogs

AncientWolf-Web“Evolution of dog” is explored in two scientific articles that emerged just recently. We thought you might enjoy seeing the evidence that traces the evolution of domestic dogs back to the wild wolf, starting more than 18,000 years ago.
    • Today’s domestic dogs are more closely related to ancient and now-extinct European wolves than today’s wolves, according to UCLA scientists who have completed genetic analyses and reported their findings in the November issue of Science. The website Phys.org. covered this groundbreaking news in an extensive article this month. The article quoted Robert Wayne, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in UCLA’s College of Letters and Science and senior author of the research, as stating, “This brings the genetic record into agreement with the archaeological record. Europe is where the oldest dogs are found.” To arrive at these conclusions, “the researchers studied 10 ancient ‘wolf-like’ animals and eight ‘dog-like’ animals, mostly from Europe, using the mitochondrial DNA of the animals, “which is abundant in ancient remains.” Professor Wayne remarked, “The domestication of predatory wolves likely occurred among ancient hunter-gatherer groups…” and, “followed the migratory patterns of early humans.” Read the complete article.
    • A related story on UK.Reuters.com picked up on the concept of how ancient European wolves evolved to become the domestic dogs we know today. The article noted, “Researcher Olaf Thalmann, from Finland’s University of Turku, stated that the division of dogs into the breeds known today took a long time, with the earliest dogs remaining similar to modern wolves. ‘Modifying a wolf into a Chihuahua is clearly a long process,’ says Thalmann.” See the Reuters story.

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