The dog, man’s best friend. How did that start? It is believed that it was with the wolves. Many of them followed groups of nomad hunters and took advantage of the remains they left behind. DNA shows that dogs and wolves began to separate 25,000 to 40,000 years ago. But how long have men and dogs been friends? Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Oxford and the University of Vienna wanted to know. Your study was published in the renowned journal “Science”.
Bark in time
Researchers have sequenced the DNA of a total of 27 dogs that lived thousands of years ago. Their bones have been found in regions of Europe, the Middle East, and Siberia. The hypothesis was that dogs were domesticated at least 20,000 years ago. Even humans lived as hunters and gatherers.
“Some of the differences between the dogs seen today began in the Ice Age,” says Pontus Skoglund. He is co-author of the work. “By the end of that time, dogs had already spread to the northern hemisphere.”
The dog lineages that give rise to today’s dog lineages existed 10,000 years ago. Anders Bergström is the director of the investigation. “Although today’s dogs come in many forms, genetically they are only derived from a narrow group of animals.”
Today’s dogs have different ancestors than today’s wolves. According to Pavlos Pavlidis and Mehmet Somel, other participants, dogs have expanded over the past 11,000 years. They did it through human migrations and also through semi-wild animals.
Dogs and humans experienced a parallel development in their adaptation to starch digestion. Both carry gene variants that enable them to be broken down. This enabled them to use food from agriculture.
The ancient DNA revolutionized the study of dogs and other domesticated animals. This adds another level to our understanding of human history.
It may not be known exactly how long men and dogs have been friends, but this work makes important contributions to the subject. At some point, almost 20,000 years ago, the first dog was domesticated. And so began a story of legendary friendship.