According to recent DNA research from dog bones, the dogs of ancient Europe probably resembled the mutts that are currently roaming the continent. This new study implies that there was only one domestication of wolves into dogs amid the continuing discussion about how many times.
Dogs were the first species that humans successfully domesticated, but it’s unclear exactly when they initially appeared. Researchers have now gained insight into the development of dogs thanks to ancient DNA found in two canine fossils found in Germany that date back 4,700 and 7,000 years, respectively. According to research led by Krishna Veeramah of Stony Brook University, modern dogs are most likely descended from a single population that inhabited Europe for thousands of years.
Our furry companions most likely descended from wolves that were domesticated between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. There is still debate among experts on who, when, and how many times these wolves were tamed. Dogs were probably accidentally tamed when wolves started pursuing prehistoric hunter-gatherers so they could chow down on their leftover food. According to one theory, docile wolves may have been given extra food scraps so they might survive and pass on their genes. These amiable wolves eventually turned into dogs. People want to believe that a wolf pup was picked up and turned into a dog, but Veeramah argues the process was far more involved.
A 5,000-year-old Irish dog fossil was the focus of a study conducted by Greger Larson from Oxford last year that claimed DNA evidence suggested this intricate evolution occurred twice, once in Europe and once in Asia. They claimed that some of the early European dog population was later supplanted by the dogs domesticated in Asia.
However, the current study contests such conclusions, contending that a single population of dogs was most likely originally domesticated between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. (They omit to specify where.) The populations of these prehistoric dogs then divided into Eastern and Western ones. According to a study published in Nature Communications today, the dogs who survived in Europe are probably the distant progenitors of present European mutts and many modern breeds.
Dogs were most likely domesticated for the first time between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago by a single population.
Adam Boyko, a Cornell University dog geneticist who wasn’t involved in the study, believes that it is a strong paper. And the majority of experts in the subject would undoubtedly concur with its findings: dogs were likely domesticated only once, and within the 20,000-year time frame Veeramah suggests. Dog geneticists may undoubtedly be a divisive group, according to Boyko. Nobody, in my opinion, is unduly committed to their own theory. Simply put, everyone is doing their best to find the correct answer despite the fact that these are complex issues.
In reality, the data from Gregor Larson’s Oxford team, whose research from the previous year confirmed the two domestications idea, was shared with Veeramah’s team. They came to the conclusion that a different, earlier domestication event may have been responsible for the genetic remnants of what may have been an extinct European dog lineage after studying a 5,000-year-old Irish dog fossil. Veeramah’s team reanalyzed the data, but they were unable to find the signal. He claims that there was no proof that the dog had anything unique about it. Instead, he claims that the technical error they found was what caused the results supporting two domestications to be disclosed in their paper today.
Additionally, two more dog fossils found in Germany over the past 20 years had DNA recovered by Veeramah’s team. By comparing bits of DNA from these prehistoric dogs with modern purebreds, mutts, and wolves, they were able to reconstruct a canid family tree. They were able to determine roughly when each of these groups split away by counting the genetic variations and calculating how long it would take for those differences to manifest. That was around 20,000–40,000 years ago for wolves and dogs. It probably happened between 17,000 and 24,000 years ago for both the Eastern and Western populations of dogs.
Despite having lived thousands of years apart, the two ancient German dogs found revealed to be genetically connected to both modern dogs and one another. However, there was one significant distinction: thanks to a digestive enzyme, modern dogs are far better able to digest carbohydrates than these prehistoric canines. Modern dogs have a lot of copies of the gene for this enzyme, which helps them digest carbohydrates easier. However, these early dogs didn’t have nearly as many, suggesting that this domestication may have developed later, maybe when the spread of agriculture and grain increased.
Boyko claims that the research “brings us back to the notion that there is a single event. It also emphasizes how crucial ancient DNA will be for putting the disputed genesis myths of dogs together.
Why wolves in the wild became domestic dogs?
Dog domestication is thought to have started when people kidnapped wolf pups and reared them as pets. In the wild, wolves age and depart from their mother’s pack to create new packs or to confront the alpha males and seize control.