Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dog Origins? "We Have No Idea" Say Scientists

September 2, 2009, Science Daily:
Previous studies in the field have indicated that East Asia is where the wolf was tamed and became the dog. It was not possible to be more precise than that. But now researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm have managed to zero in on man’s best friend.....

“For the first time ... it is possible to provide a detailed picture of the dog, with its birthplace, point in time, and how many wolves were tamed,” says Peter Savolainen, a biology researcher at KTH.

Together with Swedish colleagues and a Chinese research team, he has made a number of new discoveries about the history of the dog.

These discoveries are presented in an article in the scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, where it is claimed that the dog appeared 16,000 years ago, in Asia, south of the Yangtze River in China.

March 18, 2010, Science Daily:

Dogs likely originated in the Middle East, not Asia or Europe, according to a new genetic analysis by an international team of scientists led by UCLA biologists.The research appears March 17 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature.

"Dogs seem to share more genetic similarity with Middle Eastern gray wolves than with any other wolf population worldwide," said Robert Wayne, UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the Nature paper. "Genome-wide analysis now directly suggests a Middle East origin for modern dogs. We have found that a dominant proportion of modern dogs' ancestry derives from Middle Eastern wolves, and this finding is consistent with the hypothesis that dogs originated in the Middle East.



Mongoose said...

I doubt dogs were domesticated in one place only. Many civilizations developed things like writing and aqueducts on their own, so I'm pretty sure they all independently figured out how to tame dogs as well.

Anton said...

I agree with Mongoose, and also likely is that some diversified an remerged after a couple thousand years. Just like wolves did. So even if they might be genetically closest to one type of wolf today, that wont really proof anything.

Chris said...

It seems the studies used two different methods. The Middle East group looked at variation from wolves, while those finding SE Asia used genetic diversity.

As I see it, the problem with using the genetic diversity method is that it ignores migration, and also bottlenecks after "speciation." How do we know we haven't lost much of the genetic variation very recently, such as during the rise of a religion that deems them unclean? It would not be surprising to me if we did.