Dogs might have evolved from wolves in Europe

Dog fossil

Dog skull which dates to 31,700 years ago. It was excavated at Goyet Cave in Belgium.

A study, published in May, pointed the origin of domestic dogs in East Asia, but now there is another study that says it could have happened in Europe.

All scientists agreed that wolves are the most similar living animals to dogs, and it is confirmed by both anatomy and DNA, although dogs have now different body shape and behavior.

There were a lot of studies in the last years but they all had different results. In one of the most important studies, some scientists pointed East Asia as the place where dogs were evolved by comparing chinese native dogs and wolves DNA. This year they specified more and pointed the South of China. But this study can be wrong, because dogs in China can come from wolf interbreeding. 

The oldest doglike fossils were found in Europe and Siberia, and the new study says they have more than 30.000 years ( There a doglike fossil that has about 36.000 years, but its DNA says it is not a direct ancestor of dogs but an ancient sister-group). Nowadays, we can rescue fragments of DNA from fossils, so Dr. Wayne and his colleagues extracted DNA from fossils in Europe, Russia and the New World. They compared their genes to those from 49 wolves, 77 dogs and 4 coyotes. They found that living dogs are closely related to wolves and ancient ogs in Europe, instead of wolves from Asia. Scientists believe that domestification could have happened in Europe between 18.800 to 32.100 years ago (18.000- 30.000 in the newspaper) when dogs and european hunter-gatherers started interacting.

However, this study is criticized by Dr. Savolainen “because it’s geographically biased” due to the fact that they do not use wolves or fossils from China. Tere is a problem with that, because  in the South of China there is too many people, so there is not fossils or wolves there.

I chose this new because I think the evolution, as well as changes experienced by different species over time, is really interesting. I found it interesting that there are so many studies about this, using different methods, and it looks like they all get different results.

About the article, I think we can not be sure of the origin of domestic dogs, because there are many problems with the studies, such as chinese dogs might come from wolf interbreeding or the fact that we have no fossils or wolves in China. I think dogs can also have evolved in different places at a similar time.

Source: New York Times

Original source:Science

Phylogenetic tree of dogs

Estas entrada foi publicada en Curso 2013-2014, Evolución, paleontoloxía coas etiquetas , , . Ligazón permanente.

3 Responses to Dogs might have evolved from wolves in Europe

  1. 1) Great job, except for your opinion paragraph (it could be larger and carry more reasoning).

    2) NYT piece of news were really well written, with direct links to original papers (no additional work was needed to link you original source.
    Your link to Science allows access to the Abstract (plus and Editor’s Summary) and (clicking in Article Views, on the left column) to Figures and Supplementary Materials.

    >> A phylogenetic tree can be seen on ‘Figures‘ but at low resolution; you’ll find the same tree at higher resolution in the pdf given as ‘Supplementary Materials’, or directly in this blog. We’ll be working with similar phylogenetic trees in three months, but comparing protein sequences instead of mDNA’s.

    >> Try to find out the existence of a disagreement, as you suggest here : “new study says they have more than 30.000 years (36.000 in the newspaper)”

    > Had you searched in Google by typing the whole title, you might have find the full paper.
    > where you can read this at the bottom: ‘our results imply that some of the earliest putative dog remains, such as the Goyet dog from Belgium or Altai Mountain specimen from Russia, may represent aborted domestication episodes.
    > In addition, the caption for the Figure 1 includes that: ‘Ancient specimens are labeled with the respective country of origin and their approximate reported age (italicized; in years before present). Fossil specimens with ambiguous taxonomic classification are indicated by a gray color’.

    > So, look at this gray color specimens in the phylogenetic tree… and explain if there are any contradiction between the age given in the NYT article and data in the Science abstract.

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