Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Where Did Your Pet Dog Originate From?

Originally, scientists had evidence of the household dog being traced back to ancestors of the gray wolf in Europe, Siberia, the Near East, and South China.  However, recently, scientists Laura M. Shannon and Adam R. Boyko from Cornell University, as well as other international scientists, did a large study on dogs all over the world, including purebreds and village/street dogs.  They took three different types of DNA, to account for such a large and diverse population of 4,500 dogs of 161 breeds and 549 village dogs from 38 countries.  This assortment allowed "the researchers to determine which geographic groups of modern dogs were closest to ancestral populations genetically" (NY Times).  Their findings: that dogs originated and were primarily domesticated in Central Asia.  Their techniques for these findings were very similar to the techniques used in order to find out that humans originated in East Africa.    "The team analyzed DNA from all the chromosomes in the cell nucleus, from the Y chromosome specifically, found only in males, and from mitochondria, cellular energy machines outside the nucleus that are inherited from the mother" (NY Times).  Originally, they had expected their results to be "messy," however, instead all of the DNA seemed to follow the same pattern.  In their analysis, they explain the location of the origination, and also explain that the time of origination cannot be precisely dated; however, there is evidence of at least 15,000 years of the domesticated dog's existence.

I found this article very interesting, not only because I have a dog of my own, whom we've always questioned her mix of breeds, but also because within the first week of class we discussed the different domestication of animals and where they originated from.  This discussion included the domestication of dogs and we spoke about how they originated in Europe, and now, just within a few weeks to a month, our whole perspective is changed.

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