New evidence to determine where dogs originated from
Studies have previously suggested wolves may have been domesticated by farmer from the Middle East or Asia around 10,000 years ago perhaps helping to protect the livestock from wild animals. However the latest study has shown that domesticated wolves may have began in Europe not the Middle East in many years before agriculture developed.
Scientists have been working on the study of how domesticated dogs came in existence for years and they have always focused on the grey wolf however now there is conflicting evidence about where they were first tamed after information on specific dates of farming became clear.
Professor Robert Wayne of the University of California at Los Angeles confirmed that there have been findings of an ancient extinct European lineage of grey wolves is the most likely direct ancestor of the first domesticated dogs recorded. “We found that instead of recent wolves being closest to domestic dogs, ancient European wolves were directly related to them. This brings the genetic record into agreement with the archaeological record – Europe is where the oldest dogs are found,” Professor Wayne said.
The recent study showed the analysis of DNA of ten ‘wolf like’ animal and eight ‘dog like’ canines, most of which of Europe. Some of the remains could be up to 30,000 years old confirming these wolves were the first domesticated animals. The DNA results showed a clear relationship between modern dogs and ancient wolves and no relationship between modern dogs and modern wolves. The wolves the modern dogs were closed related to were the European wolves and scientists now believe domestication occurred between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago.
Professor Wayne continued to explain how the domestication happened, “If domestication occurred in association with hunter-gatherers, one can imagine wolves first taking advantage of the carcasses that humans left behind – a natural role for any large carnivore – and then over time moving more closely into the human niche through a co-evolutionary process,”
Previous studies that showed dogs evolved from wolves within the Middle East could have been confused by interbreeding between ancient domesticated dogs and wild wolves within the area which clouded the real discovery of where and when domesticated dogs first occurred.
The study continues with further genetic testing to verify the chromosomes rather than the mitochondria which should confirm the origin of the domestic dog.
This is a huge breakthrough in studies that have been ongoing for several years and one which hopefully will be completed in the forth coming weeks.