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Dogs could have been born in Central Asia 15,000 years ago
According to the most recent and complete genetic study ever conducted, dogs originated in Nepal or Mongolia.
Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) originate from wolves and are the result of human domestication and selection, which started thousands of years ago and produced a wide range of different species.
Researchers have conflicting hypotheses about the origins of dogs: some have suggested Europe, others Middle East, others Siberia or Southern China. According to a new detailed study published in the magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there’s a new “candidate”: central Asia.
An international team of scientists led by Laura Shannon and Adam Boyko, researchers at Cornell University, tested pedigrees as well as crossbred stray or village dogs that account for at least 75 percent of all living dogs.
Scientists analysed over 4,500 dogs from 161 different breeds and 549 crossbred dogs from 38 countries. It’s the first time that scientists study such a big and varied group of dogs. Through this study, researchers used genomic data of modern dogs and determined which groups were the most similar to the genomic data of ancestral populations.
The DNA analysis pointed to Central Asia, as well as the genetic studies on human beings determined that our origin country is Eastern Africa. Mongolian steppe and Nepalese rugged mountains are the places where man’s best friend first appeared.
Data, collected from different studies on modern and ancient DNA found in canid bones, was not so accurate so to precisely determine when dogs originated, but it demonstrated that dogs arose from wolves at least 15,000 years ago.
The research results are not ultimate, though. The great variety of pedigrees spread in the last two centuries obscured dog’s evolutionary story, making it difficult to determine their origins.
According to Boyko, between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, grey wolves and human beings hunted similar preys, big mammals like the Eurasian elk. But increased human density, climate change and other factors caused the decline of these preys. So, wolves would have approached human settlements in search of food. Human beings and wolves would have increasingly collaborated, starting the domestication process.
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