Our modern domesticated dog friends are definitely descended from their wolf ancestors, but when did the change from wild animal to man’s best friend happen? And where? And why? A recent Cornell University study of about 5,000 genetically diverse dogs is shedding some light on the answers to those questions.
The study traced the DNA of both purebred dogs and “village dogs” that live near human settlements, and the data provided some interesting results. The researchers were able to determine that modern dogs can trace their roots back to Central Asia. Until this study, many scientists believed that dog domestication could have happened in many locations around the globe at the same time, but the data does not support that theory.
It is generally agreed that the split between wolf and dog happened about 15,000 years ago. But why it happened is still a bit of a mystery. One theory is that wolves simply followed human tribes, as they were more efficient hunters, and ate the leftovers from their camps. Gradually, those that were more friendly to humans were able to survive and breed until they became domesticated. It was a survival technique that worked as there are almost a billion dogs in the world today, but only a few million wolves. The scientists who performed this study hope that their results will be able to provide some new data and help answer the questions surrounding the origin of modern dogs.
Whatever the case, we’re happy that our best furry friends are here with us today. What would we do without them?