Interesting New Facts Discovered About How Dogs Were First Domesticated

Not much is known today about how dog and man came to form the relationship that is so important between the two species. We know we love our little furry friends and depend on them perhaps as much as they depend on us, but a group of researchers is looking at how this bond was first formed and this relationship cultivated, especially the domestication of dogs. . A new study has brought to light some interesting new facts about how dogs were first domesticated.

A new study published in Nature shows a specific lineage of the gray wolf in particular. According to the study, it is this breed of dog, or rather this species, that is tied to being the first breed to be somewhat domesticated, as it was the species that survived the Ice Age… thus spreading over what was then the desolate land.

How far back did the domesticated dog really go?

In the aforementioned study, researchers analyzed 72 ancient wolf species dating back 100,000 years! Among the details offered on geographic placement, we learned that dogs, which were closely related to ancient wolves, could be found in eastern Eurasia. And that the first signs of domestication (in this region) were discovered thanks to the study.

This line is present everywhere on the planet apart from Antarctica and Australia. Anders Bergstrom, who was one of the authors of the aforementioned report, had this to say about it:

“Our study takes an important step forward on the question of the origins of dogs…By studying ancient wolves that lived near the time of dog domestication, we found that dogs as a whole are more closely related to ancient Asian wolves than to ancient European wolves, suggesting a process of domestication somewhere in the east… We find that some dogs, especially those from Africa and the Near East, have a genetic contribution addition of a second source population of wolves, one that is related to western wolves… So there appear to have been at least two distinct source populations of wolves, giving rise to a dual ancestry in dogs today…

There are two scenarios that could explain the dual ancestry we found in dogs… First, there could have been two independent domestication processes, with the two populations then coming together and merging into one. Second, there could have been a single process of domestication, followed by gene flow from local wild wolves to dogs after dogs arrived, say in the Near East. We can’t tell these two scenarios apart at the moment, but hopefully future studies of early dogs can tell them apart…

None of the ancient wolves included in our study exactly matched either of the two source populations, suggesting that the sources will have lived in parts of the world that we have not yet sampled… So while our study shows that there would have been at least two source populations, the search for these sources will continue. Hopefully, by sampling older wolf genomes from other parts of the world, future studies can pinpoint more precisely where the dogs came from.

(As reported via in Transcript.)

And what place does dog sledding have in all of this? I mean, anyone who has read the work of Jack London and studied Northern mushing stories knows that wolves, or rather nowadays Husky breeds, are ideal for such work…and in the end isn’t- Isn’t this a massive relationship and or bond between man and animal?

Of course it is, and the scientists who conducted the study found that due to the specific needs of ancient civilizations, i.e. “travel and transport of resources over long distances, in which the dog sledding would have been very beneficial – if not necessary….”

Interestingly enough, the scientists involved in the study or any other group of researchers still have no clear idea where exactly the dogs came from, but studies like this show that they’re getting close.

Ultimately, perhaps the most important thing to take away from this study, an essential part of it, is that these researchers found that dogs and humans are quite similar in one major way. The article provided above suggests that the human genome contains approximately 2.5% Neanderthal DNA.

I mean, we all know that, don’t we…especially if we paid attention in school. This makes us an amalgamation of primates…while dogs are also an amalgamation of two ancient breeds.

No wonder, then, that we have become so close in the long years since our respective first appearances on this earth; we were a match made in heaven if you ask me. It couldn’t be more apt than what I say.

Have you found out anything about your dog’s breed and maybe a little age? What do you think about how dogs were potentially domesticated? Do you think Neanderthals domesticated dogs themselves? Let us know your thoughts!

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