Domestic dogs originate from southern East Asia and apparently migrated to the Middle East and Africa, and then to Europe, 15,000 and 10,000 years ago respectively. A new research published in Cell Research that looked into the whole genomes of wolves and dogs led to these findings.
The topic of the origin and evolution of domestic dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, which have now pervaded all continents, has remained a grey area among scientists. Data from DNA recently interpreted seem to point at either Europe or Central Asia as their initial home. On the other hand, if dogs came from elsewhere, such as the southern part of East Asia, “it would not have been detected”, as explains one of the authors, Peter Savolainen, in a statement to IFLScience.
For the purpose of their study, Savolainen and colleague Ya-Ping Zhang together with their team conducted DNA sequencing of the whole genomes of 58 species of the dog family, Canidae, such as:-
- Indigenous dogs from the north and south of East Asia
- Nigerian village dogs
- Afghan hounds
- Alaskan malamutes
- Chihuahuas Peruvian naked dogs
- Tibetan mastiffs
It was found that dogs from southern East Asia displayed the most genetic diversity. Normally, the latter is a trait indicative of the geographical origin of organisms. This implies that domestic dogs might possibly have come from southern East Asia.
The researchers also found that the dogs’ ancestors might have existed around 33,000 years ago.
Furthermore, it appears that the domestic dogs would have migrated from South China to the Middle East and Africa about 15,000 years ago because of environmental factors such as the retreat of glaciers 19,000 years ago. The dogs only spread to Europe 10,000 years back, probably as a result of the migration of humans. Then, dogs from these ancient groups might have later returned to the east, in the direction of northern China, where they bred with dogs from southern East Asia. Eventually, the resulting offspring dispersed to America.