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Dogs Come From Two Ancient Wolf Populations

Dogs come from ancient wolf populations from the West and East Eurasia, says a new study published in the journal, Science.


A modern wolf. Photo credits: Shutterstock.

Wolves have a certain allure to them that few can deny while dogs have won over the hearts of millions worldwide. Ever wondered about their origin and link? According to the new study, the origin of dogs has been demystified, and the difficulty scientists have had so far in investigating this issue has been clarified.

The researchers started off by analysing genetic data in comparison to a 4,800-year-old bone obtained from a medium dog from a Neolithic Passage Tomb of Newgrange in Ireland. They, then, performed a DNA sequencing of the genome of the fossil. They also gleaned mitochondrial DNA data from 59 ancient dogs living from 3,000 to 14,000 years ago, which was later compared with 2,500 modern dogs.

The results revealed that dogs living in the East were different from those living in the west, according to senior author, Dan Bradley, from Trinity College Dublin. Also, Eastern dogs apparently went on to Europe where they bred with other dogs.

Furthermore, modern-day dogs are said to be a hybrid of eastern and western dogs – this means that our dogs come from two populations of ancient wolves. This would explain why researchers have been unsuccessful in tracing their origin by using DNA. However, the authors do add that more evidence is needed to support their findings.

Dublin explains that gene reconstruction using modern DNA entails not knowing whether important parts thereof have been lost. Lead author Laurent Frantz explains that “reconstructing the past from modern DNA” is tantamount to going through history books, implying that we can never know if important parts are missing.


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