Subscribe to Archaeology

Study Suggests Some Dogs and Humans Traveled Together

Friday, October 30, 2020

Mesolithic Dog WolfOXFORD, ENGLAND—Science Magazine reports that evolutionary biologist Greger Larson of the University of Oxford, paleogenomicist Pontus Skoglund of the Francis Crick Institute, and their colleagues analyzed the genomes of more than 2,000 dogs who lived in Europe, Siberia, and the Near East as early as 11,000 years ago, and compared them to the genomes of 17 modern humans who lived in the same places at the same times. The researchers found that there were already five distinct domesticated dog lineages some 11,000 years ago. Traces of these lineages can still be found in living dogs, such as the American lineage in Chihuahuas, and the Siberian lineage in Huskies. The study also suggests that wolf genes did not survive in domesticated dogs, even though wolves acquired dog genes. Larson explained that the introduction of wolf DNA into domesticated dogs could have produced poor guard dogs and hunting companions. “If you’re a dog and you have a bit of wolf in you, that’s terrible,” he said. People would not keep such a dog, he explained. As for the comparison of the dog and human genomes, the study shows that some populations migrated with their dogs. For example, farmers from the Near East traveled with their dogs to Sweden, where they lived together some 5,000 years ago. Other migrants adopted local dogs on arrival, however. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Science. To read about the Inuits' specialized breed of sled dog, go to "Around the World: Arctic."

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement