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Wolves turned into dogs by European hunter-gatherers

Wolves turned into dogs by European hunter-gatherers

New Scientist

Image: candybmw

European hunter-gatherers were the first to bring dogs to heel, perhaps as early as 32,000 years ago.

How and when the domestic dog evolved from wild wolves has always been tricky to pin down, says Robert Wayne at the University of California, Los Angeles. Our four-legged friends have followed us all over the world and occasionally interbred with local wolf populations.

To get a clearer view, Wayne and his colleagues looked at mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones of 18 prehistoric canids (wolves and dogs) from Eurasia, the US and Argentina. They also gathered this DNA from 130 modern wolves and dogs from all over the world. By comparing similarities and differences between the genetic sequences, the team worked out how all of the animals related to each another.

The modern dogs clustered into four distinct groups. All four have European roots, the oldest of which are between 19,000 and 32,000 years old. It’s likely that the first domestic dogs emerged at that time, says Wayne. Read more on newscientist.com…