Europe Might Be Dog's Origin

Dog is a man's best friend. That's all we have to say everytime we talk about our beloved dogs. There were several species of them and every one of us have our own fave. But have you asked yourself where they might come from? Or perhaps, how the first dog look like? Curious as it is, let's find out!

Scientists have been dogged by this evolution question for years: Just where did man's best friend first appear?

Though DNA studies have implicated east Asia and the Middle East, the earliest known doglike fossils come from Europe. Now a large DNA study is lining up with the fossils, some 19,000 to 32,000 years ago suggesting dogs originated in Europe.

Even though experts said it won't end the debate, they praised the new work and their latest disscovery.

Scientists generally agree that dogs emerged from wolves to become the first domesticated animal.  Maybe drawn by food in garbage dumps and carcasses left by human hunters, their wolf ancestors began to associate with people. In the process they became tamer, and scientists believe people found them useful for things like hunting and guard duty. Wolves gradually turned into the first dogs over a very long time in this human environment.

The latest attempt to figure out where this happened was published online Thursday by the journal Science.

Researchers gathered DNA from fossils of 18 ancient wolflike and doglike creatures that lived up to 36,000 years ago in Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. They compared the genetic material to modern samples from 49 wolves from North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, 77 dogs of a wide variety of breeds including cocker spaniel, basenji and golden retriever, and four coyotes.

The DNA of modern dogs showed similarities to the genetic material from the ancient European specimens and modern-day European wolves, the researchers reported.

Experts claims that the first dogs evolved by associating with hunter-gatherers rather than farmers, since dogs evidently appeared before agriculture did.

According to Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles, a study author, "There are now, based on genetic evidence, three alternative hypotheses for the origin of dogs."

He said his results suggest a better case for Europe than for east Asia or the Middle East. He also said the kind of wolf that gave rise to dogs is now extinct.

Olaf Thalmann of the University of Turku in Finland, another author, said the work doesn't mean that Europe is the only place where dogs emerged.

In an e-mail, Olaf Thalmann said that, "We conclude that Europe played a major role in the domestication process."

The work makes a strong argument for an origin in Europe, although it might not be the only place, said Greger Larson of Durham University in England, who did not participate in the research. "I think it's a real step in the right direction."

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
― Mark Twain


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