Descendants of Wolves

February 2, 2008

Professor Robert Wayne of the University of California plus and eight-person research team. Took mitochondrial DNA samples from 162 wolves and 140 dogs North America, Europe, Asia and the Arabian peninsula. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from mother to child. It is especially suited to analyze genetic lines that result from mutation over long periods. Dog and wolf DNA differ by only 12 mutations; dogs and jackals and prairie wolves differ in 22 places. This proves that contemporary dogs are descended from wolves exclusively. The split between dogs and wolves occurred around 135,000 years ago, about the same time as our own species appeared, Homo sapiens. However canine varieties that had a skeletal structure different form wolves show up around 14,000 to 20,000 years ago. The belief today is that the pre-canine ‘tame’ wolves differed at first only behaviorally from their counterparts in the wild.

– from If Dogs Could Talk; Exploring the Canine Mind by Vilmos Csányi, translated by Richard E. Quandt, North Point Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 2005. Originally published in 2000 by Vince Kiadó Kft., Hungary


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