Study Finds Dogs Descended from two Populations of Ancient Wolves

Jax Hudur

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Dogs are thought to be descended from wolvesPhoto by Kieran White on Unsplash

From sniffing out drugs in airports to helping people with disabilities as guides, no animal is closer and more beloved to us than dogs. Most of us can’t imagine a future without dogs. However, dogs were not always mankind’s best friend. They were once ferocious predators that roamed the wilderness.

Scientists have traced the ancestry of dogs to two ancient populations of wolves that wandered in Asia and the Middle East during the Ice Age. Scientists say dogs were first domesticated between 15000 and 30000 years ago by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. But according to their research, dogs are genetically similar to Siberian wolves but are not direct ancestors of our beloved pets.

While scientists do not know the actual process of how our ancestors forged a relationship with the wolves that led to their domestication, what they know for a fact is that the modern dog has a dual ancestry. They know this because scientists have sequenced 66 of 72 genomes of ancient wolves that lived in North America, Europe, and Siberia 100,000 years ago and compared the results with genomes from ancient and present-day dogs.

Dr. Anders Bergström of the Francis crick institute, the lead author of the research, said,

“I think it is a very fascinating thing that humans back in the ice age would have gone out and formed this relationship with this fierce predator. It basically suggests that dogs would have undergone domestication somewhere in Asia.”

Besides being our best friends, countless studies have shown the advantages of having dogs as pets. For example, a comprehensive examination of studies produced between 1950 and 2019 concluded that dog owners had low blood pressure levels and improved reactions to stress. This meant people with dogs as pets lived longer and had a lower risk of death.

Though questions remain about how and when the dog’s domestication occurred, scientists are hopeful that their continued search will eventually solve the mystery.

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