Study on dogs' origin continues
NEW YORK — For years, scientists have been dogged by this evolution question: Just where did man's best friend first appear?
The earliest known doglike fossils come from Europe. But DNA studies have implicated east Asia and the Middle East. Now a large DNA study is lining up with the fossils, suggesting dogs originated in Europe about 19,000 to 32,000 years ago.
Experts praised the new work but said it won't end the debate.
Scientists generally agree that dogs emerged from wolves to become the first domesticated animal. Their wolf ancestors began to associate with people, maybe drawn by food in garbage dumps and carcasses left by human hunters. In the process, they became tamer, and scientists believe people found them useful for things such as hunting and guard duty. Over a very long time in this human environment, wolves gradually turned into the first dogs.
The latest attempt to figure out where this happened was published online Thursday by the journal Science.
Researchers gathered DNA from fossils of 18 ancient wolflike and doglike creatures that lived as long as 36,000 years ago in Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. They compared the genetic material to modern samples from 49 wolves from North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East; 77 dogs of a wide variety of breeds including cocker spaniel, basenji and golden retriever; and four coyotes.
The DNA of modern dogs showed similarities to the genetic material from the ancient European specimens and modern-day European wolves, the researchers reported.
The first dogs evolved by associating with hunter-gatherers rather than farmers, because dogs evidently appeared before agriculture did, they said.
“There are now, based on genetic evidence, three alternative hypotheses for the origin of dogs,” said Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles, a study author.
He said his results suggest a better case for Europe than for east Asia or the Middle East. He said the kind of wolf that gave rise to dogs is extinct.
Olaf Thalmann of the University of Turku in Finland, another author, said the work doesn't mean that Europe is the only place where dogs emerged.
“We conclude that Europe played a major role in the domestication process,” he said in an email.
The work makes a strong argument for an origin in Europe, although it might not be the only place, said Greger Larson of Durham University in England, who did not participate in the research. “I think it's a real step in the right direction.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Officials: 1 dead, 3 wounded in Northern Arizona University shooting
- Officials: Broken rail caused February W.V. train derailment
- Dozens of terror plots disrupted in America, FBI claims
- McCarthy drops out as GOP speaker candidate in shocker
- Supreme Court won’t hear insider trading case
- Oregon college town sets gun rights protest for Obama visit
- Civil servants’ pay, benefits exceed private-sector counterparts, Cato study finds
- Alaska to feel remnants of former Hurricane Oho
- Ex-CEO of Chicago Public Schools to plead guilty to $23 million kickback scheme
- Wrong drug may have been used in Okla. execution
- Bipartisan coalition works to revive Ex-Im Bank