Humans may have domesticated dogs much before than generally thought

Humans may have domesticated dogs much before than generally thought

According to an interesting new study published in the Current Biology journal, the companionship between humans and dogs dates back to a much longer period in history than previously thought.

Earlier, it was considered that the modern version split on the evolutionary tree took place around 16,000 years ago. But the new study based on analysis of the genome of a 35,000-year-old wolf has found that the dog and wolf split might have taken place 27,000 to 40,000 years ago.

The finding is based on the analysis of an ancient Siberian jaw fragment, called ‘Taimyr’ wolf bone, which was found to be dating back 35,000 years. The researchers said that the animal was found to be the most recent ancestor of wolf and modern dog.

Love Dalen from the Swedish Museum of Natural History said that the findings of the study indicate that the dogs may have been domesticated much before than generally thought. From the analysis, it was also found that the ancient wolf had been on an expedition as well. It was on six week long expedition in Russia’s Taymyr Peninsula.

The researchers travelled the place in order to find out where melting permafrost could expose the remains of long-dead animal. The researchers conducted comparative analysis of DNA of the ancient wolf and that of modern wolf and dogs.

In order to have an idea when the split might have taken place, the researchers used an assumed mutation rate. It is most likely that domestication took place much before than humans started farming, which was around 10,000 years ago.

The evolutionary split resulted into new species, but the researchers said that domestication of dogs could have taken some more time.

Study’s lead researcher Love Dalen of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm said domestication may have happened, “One scenario is that wolves started following humans around and domesticated themselves. Another is that early humans simply caught wolf cubs and kept them as pets, and this gradually led to these wild wolves being domesticated”.


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