Recent research on the DNA of ancient dogs has revealed that dogs spread globally at a fast rate after being tamed. The research also points the possible origin of dogs to breeds of wolves that have gone into extinction.
Reports of the recent study published in the journal Science takes DNA research of dogs to new heights while raising new questions. Before now, there have been scientific publications of 6 early wolves and dogs genomes. With this new research, another 27 early dog genomes have been extracted and examined by a global team of scientists.
The extremely rich amount of statistics collected from the 27 genomes provides several new viewpoints on dogs’ domestication besides their relationship with humans. Without a doubt, the understanding of the findings is wide-ranging, Arstechnica reports.
According to Harvard University scientist David Reich, the recent study, “for the first time brings ancient DNA analysis of dogs to the kind of sophistication that exists with studies of humans and other animals.” Reich is a specialist in fathoming population changes and movements using DNA and ancient humans.
Some new research findings include dogs already diverging into five different extractions and spreading all over the world as of 11,000 years ago. While it is commonly believed that dogs were tamed about 15,000 years ago, the recent research, though not proving it, suggests that taming may have begun about 5,000 years earlier.
The study proposes an evolution of dogs from a breed of wolves that have been wiped out over time. Other scientists are, however, doubting the credibility of this finding. The research reports that early dogs were more genetically different from modern dogs. It sighted the European dogs, which 4,000 years ago had a substantial genetic variety but became extinct long before Victorians created new breeds.
Another finding from the study is that though dogs are a progression of a specific breed of wolves, no recent DNA of wolves has moved into dog genomes since the early breed of wolves evolved into dogs over 15,000 years ago. This poses a teaser for scientists as no wolf DNA generally survives in dogs despite humans’ crossbreeding efforts.
According to Dr. Skoglund, “We cannot exclude that some of the dogs could have partially different origins or domestications (it is hard to exclude), but we see no evidence of it at the moment.”
The new study is a collaborative effort of several distinguished scientists such as Laurent Frantz of the Queen Mary University of London, Oxford University’s Greger Larson, as well as Anders Bergstrom and Pontus Skoglund, both of Francis Crick Institute in London.