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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dog origin anywhere in Eurasia

It was claimed some years ago (Savolainen et al., 2002) that dog domestication had happened apparently in East Asia, reasoning based on the genetic diversity of the animals sampled in that region. But now new research by Adam Boyko and colleagues challenges this after having sampled numerous dogs through Africa, while in honeymoon, Boyko has found that the diversity there is comparable to that found in East Asia.

But the study does not challenge the fundamental notion that the domestic dog descends from the Eurasian grey wolf (Canis lupus), so Africa cannot be the place where it was first domesticated. Where then? The question remains unanswered by the moment and East Asia could still be the place but the evidence is inconclusive.

The highest diversity found in Africa and East Asia so far doesn't seem to correspond to anything but the fact that village dogs, in contrast to purebreeds and mixes from these breeds, are intrinsecally much more diverse genetically. It is rural disinterest for dog breeding what has preserved that higher diversity, not any aboriginal pervivence.

It may be worth remembering here too that the oldest dogs found in the archaeological record belong to the Aurignacian culture of Europe, specifically in modern Belgium. It is also interesting to mention in this regard that this dog is apparently not the direct ancestor of modern dogs, at least matrilineally. (Note: I found another media article claiming that there are dog remains from Britain from before 100,000 BP, what would make the domestication a Neanderthal achievement - I cannot confirm this claim though).

Source: BBC.

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