This Just In: Domestication of Dogs Location and Date in History Still Unclear

August 10, 2009

Sometimes what we learn is how much we still don’t know. Through the study of mitochondrial DNA, (genes passed along the matriarchal line) we know that domestic dogs are derived from the population of Eurasian grey wolves sometime between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Here’s the logic: the most genetically diverse current dog population today should be found in the location that this gradual transformation first occurred. A 2002 study put this in East Asia. Now a more recent study shows a similar level of diversity in dogs in Africa. Africa itself cannot be where this transformation took place because they are no grey wolves that adapted to this climate.

What this means is the assumption that dogs became ‘man’s best friend’ in East Asia is brought into question. To solve this riddle definitively more DNA studies will be required in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.

For the complete story from the National Geographic, go here.


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