by Jenna Mallon (’18)
Although it is a common fact that domestic dogs originated from wolves, there are still speculations concerning the geographical and temporal origins of man’s best friend. There are disagreements over when and where dogs were domesticated. Despite evidence that points to the Paleolithic Era, some archeologists argue that dogs could have been independently domesticated in two separate regions: Eastern and Western Eurasia.
Laurent A. F. Frantz and a group of researchers set out to solve this mystery by analyzing the mitochondrial DNA and genomes of modern-day dogs of today, and ancient dogs, dating from as far back as 3,000 to 14,000 years ago. By using a phylogenetic analysis and taking genetic mutation rates into account, the team discovered a split between Western and Eastern dogs. Due to the vast genetic differences found between Western Eurasian and East Asian lineages, Frantz and his team concluded that dogs originated independently in both Eastern and Western Eurasia 12,500 and 15,000 years ago, respectively. Eventually, these two separate populations combined, as Eastern dogs moved west following human migration, to create one lineage. In the future, further research involving detailed examinations of archaeological dog remains still needs to be completed in order to confirm this hypothesis.
- A. F. Frantz et al., Genomic and archaeological evidence suggest a dual origin of domestic dogs. Science, 352, 1228-1231 (2016), doi: 10.1126/science.aaf3161.
- Image retrieved from: https://static.pexels.com/photos/7720/night-animal-dog-pet.jpg