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Where Did Dogs Originate?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Central Asia dogsITHACA, NEW YORK—A genetic survey conducted by Laura M. Shannon and Adam Boyko of Cornell University and an international team of scientists suggests that the most recent common ancestor of today’s domesticated dogs originated in Central Asia. Previous genetic studies have suggested that dogs originated in the Middle East, in East Asia, and in Europe. This team studied nuclear DNA, DNA from Y-chromosomes, and mitochondrial DNA from 4,676 dogs from 161 breeds, and 549 village dogs—feral dogs that live near human settlements—in 38 countries. “The fact that we looked at so many village dogs from so many different regions, we were able to narrow in on the patterns of diversity in these indigenous dogs,” Boyko told BBC News. He suggests that further research could focus on dog remains from archaeological sites in Central Asia. Even though scholars are divided on where the first dogs were domesticated, they tend to agree that it happened some 15,000 years ago. “There’s no doubt they were hanging around [hunting] camps and becoming gradually more attuned to human life. The question is what was the first step for why that was happening,” Boyko said. To read more about dogs and archaeology, go to "More Than Man's Best Friend."

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