Dog DNA is A Mystery

May 24, 2012


Though research has been done to figure out where dogs came from, it turns out, it’s still a big mystery. We do know, or at least scientists tend to agree, that dogs, the first domesticated animals, descended from wolves and probably first became domesticated about 15,000 to 100,000 years ago in Asia and/or Africa. Despite the attempts, it turns out that due to tons of cross-breeding, dog DNA is so confusing that it can only be traced back about 150 years. Everything else, according to Dr. Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist, is a “big blurred mess.”
Even though humans selectively created some dog breeds, these breeds are not necessarily easier to track. When humans traveled, their dogs went with them and bred on their own, thus muddying the map. There are about 14 breeds, however, that can be traced back a few thousand years and biologists consider these to be ancient dog breeds. They include breeds like Basenjis, Salukis, Akitas and Afghan hounds.

An ancient breed: Basenji

In this new study, researchers looked at 1,375 dogs that covered 35 breeds, six of which were ancient breeds. They also sequenced genetic material from 19 wolves. The results? Even though scientists thought the DNA of ancient breeds would give them a map that aligned with the geography of the oldest fossils and archaeological remains of domestic dogs, it didn’t. Due to cross breeding, they didn’t get any closer to answering their questions.
Now, experts will look to fossils, buried by ancient humans, some of which date back 15,000 years. They will use the DNA in these ancient remains and attempt to get some answers. Larson is optimistic that they’re close to figuring out the mystery of dogs’ origins!

Source: Info via The Week, Main image via

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