Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023
Such DNA.  Paleogenetic.  Wow.  Very archaeological evidence.

Such DNA. Paleogenetic. Wow. Very archaeological evidence.


Dogs were some of the first animals to be domesticated by humans. These furry friends lived with humans for thousands of years before we invented agriculture and started raising other animals, such as goats and pigs. While we have archaeological evidence of dog bones within human communities dating back 15,000 years, scientists are still unsure where humans began the process of transforming wild wolves into cuddly companions. Now, a new study suggests that dogs were domesticated twice — once in Europe and once in Asia, probably around the same time.

A large group of researchers with expertise in everything from archeology to paleogenetics collaborated on a paper in Science explain how it came to this conclusion. The group began sequencing DNA from ancient and modern dogs to measure genetic drift. At the heart of the research was a well-preserved bone from a dog that lived in Ireland 4,800 years ago, about the time Stonehenge was built. By comparing this dog’s DNA to that of more than 600 modern dogs and DNA fragments from other ancient dogs, the team was able to determine that this Western dog belonged to a genetic group that diverged from Asian dogs between 14,000 and 6,400 years ago.

told evolutionary biologist Greger Larson Science‘s David Grimm, “I was like ‘Holy shit!’ We’ve never seen this split before because we didn’t have enough samples.”

In this video, the researchers explain how dogs were domesticated twice about 15,000 years ago by groups of humans thousands of miles apart.

If that were the whole story, we’d have strong evidence that dogs were domesticated in Asia and spread west into Europe, but there’s one annoying problem. There is evidence of domestic dogs in Europe 15,000 years ago, at least 1,000 years before the ancestors of the Irish dog diverged from the Asian stock. In fact, the researchers note that we have evidence of domestic dogs during this Late Paleolithic period on both sides of the Eurasian continent, but nothing from the center of the continent. If Asian domestic dogs had spread to Europe, you would expect to see signs of them in Central Asia thousands of years ago. But that evidence is not there. Based on what archaeologists have found at Paleolithic sites, it appears that human-domesticated dogs emerged in Europe and East Asia about 15,000 years ago. Only later did Asian dogs cross the continent with humans, displacing the old European dogs.

To be absolutely sure that this account is correct, more research needs to be done. We need to sequence more dog genomes and get a more complete picture of the genetics of ancient dog populations. It is also possible that we find archaeological evidence of ancient dogs in Central Asia, which would mean that humans brought dogs from Asia to Europe before 15,000 years ago. At least one thing is certain for now: somewhere between 14,000 and 6,400 years ago, dogs from Asia reached Europe, interbred with local dogs and largely replaced them. Almost all dogs today are descended from dogs that were domesticated in Asia.

What’s fascinating is that we now have evidence that there was not a single domestication event when it comes to dogs. Millennia ago, people across Eurasia came to very similar conclusions about wolves. Somehow vastly different groups of people looked at those wolves and saw potential friends and allies. And that spark of recognition changed the course of human and dog life forever.

Science2016. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3161

By akfire1

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