According to a new study published this week in the Science magazine, dogs were domesticated in two different places. It seems that the early humans were so in love with the canids, that they approached them independently in two different areas of the world.
Researchers have been asking themselves “where was the first dog domesticated” for quite some time now. It seems that, finally, one team of scientists is answering this question. The good news is that it has two correct answers seeing as two distinct populations decided that it’s a good idea to domesticate the canids at around the same time.
Laurent Frantz, a professor at Oxford University, declared that the results were surprising because usually a domesticated species has a single origin. However, seeing as the majority of early farmers were using the dogs with the same purpose in mind, it’s not at all surprising.
The paper that was published on Thursday stresses the fact that the theory on which the study is based on is only an assumption, the team needing more time to analyze the evidence and historical facts.
The study was based on archaeological records and genetics. Among others, it included the complete genome of a dog that roamed Ireland approximately 4,800 years ago. They also had samples of DNA from 59 dogs from Europe that lived 3,000 to 14,000 years ago.
The ancient canid genetic material was compared to that of a sample of 685 modern day dogs. After analyzing the differences, the team concluded that dogs were probably domesticated in two different places.
The most probable scenario is that the humans from Asia decided to domesticate the wolves that hung around their farms, while those from the Near East or Europe did the same thing with another species of canids.
When the Asian populations decided to travel to the Near East, they took their dogs with them, thus combining the two different breeds. This is how the dog population that presents different genetic features as the Asian dogs came to be.
Frantz declared that many modern-day dogs presented genetic components from both species.
The theory that dogs were domesticated in two different places is not that farfetched. At the beginning of the year, a group of scientists managed to demonstrate that cats, too, were domesticated in both Asia and Europe independently.
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