Dogs: Ancient DNA sheds more light on their prehistory

Dogs, descended from wolves, were the first domesticated domestic animal with which humans developed close relationships, but to date little is known about their prehistory and their relationships with humans. A new international scientific study – with the participation of a Greek archaeologist- sheds more light than ever on the distant past of dogs, thanks to the analysis of 27 ancient genomes of our “best friends”, which date from 100 to 11,000 years ago and come from different parts of Europe, of the Middle East and Siberia. Among other things, it is revealed that shortly after the last ice age, 11,000 years ago, dogs were already divided into at least five major breeds, at a time when probably no other animal had yet been domesticated. This shows that the current diversity of dogs has a long evolutionary course during the ice age, when humans were still hunter-gatherers. By the time the ice had subsided, the dogs had already spread to the northern hemisphere. How they were domesticated. “Science” magazine reveals a complex genetic heritage and relationship of dogs to humans. Comparing the ancient genomes with those of modern dogs, the scientists concluded that all dogs seem to share a common heritage, which means that they were probably only domesticated by a population of ancient wolves. They also found that there was a limited from wolves to dogs after the domestication of the latter, but instead a significant flow of genes from dogs to wolves. The exact date and geographical location of the first domesticated dogs remain unknown or the subject of scientific controversy. New genetic data show that as early as 11,000 years ago, five major distinct dog breeds had diversified and spread worldwide. Exactly how this extension of the dogs happened (independently or with the help of people who were migrating) is unknown. However, the new study confirms that dogs have had a close relationship with humans for thousands of years, often following a parallel evolution, even in their DNA (eg similar adaptations of humans and dogs to their metabolic capacity). Their origins After different breeds appeared, for 10,000 years there were frequent interbreeding of dogs in many parts of Eurasia. Genetic analysis estimates that about half of Europe’s dogs originate from the Paleolithic Middle East and the other half from Siberia. When the first farmers started their mass movements to the West, they often -but not always- brought their dogs with them. Katerina Trantalidou, dr. Archaeologist – Archaeologist of the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology-Speleology of the Ministry of Culture, specializing in the study of animal bone remains. He has studied the remains of animals from many parts of Greece and, among other things, has taught at the Department of History, Archeology and Social Anthropology of the University of Thessaly. In a separate joint commentary article in “Science”, Pavlos Pavlidis, a researcher at the Institute of Technology and Research (FORTH) in Crete, and Mehmet Somel of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, point out that although humans and dogs are separated 90 million years of evolutionary history, they have spent most of their recent past serving each other. They were domesticated before all the animals. Paleolithic people and eating the remains of hunting the latter. The initial evolutionary deviation of dog-wolves probably occurred 25,000 to 40,000 years ago. When and where the first domestication of dogs by humans, as they emphasize, remains unclear. According to the new genetic study, this probably happened about 20,000 years ago during the peak of the last glacial period. If this is the case then maybe the dogs were actually domesticated before all the other animals (sheep, pigs, etc.) Link to the scientific publication.Source: AMPEFollow it on Google News and be the first to see all the newsShow all the latest News Greece and the World, at

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