Friday, March 19, 2010

Dogs Descended From Middle Eastern Wolf

This is probably not the final word on the subject of dog domestication. Some scientists think Wayne and his colleagues are barking up the wrong tree, so to speak.

SHOOT: It makes sense that the Middle East, where civilisation set down its roots, wolves - finding the slim pickings of the desert tough at times - were tempted to slink up to human camps in search of free morsels and even lunch. And thus their bites were exhanged for barks, wolf became woof woof.
clipped from
A Middle Eastern Gray Wolf
'Dominant Signal Comes From The Middle East'

Then they analyzed DNA from more than 900 dogs from 85 breeds, and looked to see which of the wolf markers dogs most closely resembled. It turns out that most dogs shared markers unique to Middle Eastern wolves, although there were some dog breeds that were closer to other wolf populations.

"Many wolf populations may have contributed to the genomic diversity of dogs, but the dominant signal comes from the Middle East," says Wayne. The new research appears in the journal Nature.

"I can't say that I am surprised by the results," says Tamar Dayan, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. "I would have been surprised if they were different."

Dayan says dog skeletons 12,000 or 13,000 years old have been found in what is now northern Israel. "They're found in burials with humans in a very clear human context."

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