The Origin of Dogs
Did you ever wonder how your adorable and furry companion came to be? Who knew dogs had such a complicated history! Keep reading if you would like to know how man’s / woman’s best friend went from wolf to dog.
Although we don’t know for sure, many scientists have guessed that dogs could have been used in many different ways. They could have assisted humans with herding and hunting, in bringing down large prey or could have scavenged leftover carcasses. No one would have guessed that this unlikely partnership with the grey wolf many years ago would have lasted a lifetime. Since then wolves skulls, teeth, and paws shrank. They become docile, less frightening, and less fearful.
A Complicated History
For the amount of love we have for our cute pooches, you would think we would have more of an idea of how they came to be. One thing we know for sure is that even small Dachshunds to towering Great Danes, are the tame descendants of wild ancestral wolves. Some experts say wolves were domesticated 10,000 years ago, while others say 30,000. There is also a split on whether they were domesticated in Europe, the Middle East, or East Asia.
Greger Larson, a scientist who is studying the domestication of dogs, may have discovered their origin story. Thousands of years ago, somewhere in Western Eurasia, humans domesticated grey wolves. At the same time, humans also domesticated wolves in Eastern Eurasia. This means that there were two distinct and geographically separate groups of dogs. Then some of these dogs in the east migrated westward with their humans, mating with western dogs, which eventually replaced them. It is estimated that these dogs split from each other between 6,400 and 14,000 years ago.
To back up his theory, Larson explained that if dogs originated in one simple place the oldest fossils would be found there and the newest ones would be furthest away. However, there are two sets of old fossils that have been found, 15,000-year-old fossils in western Europe and 12,500-year-old fossils in East Asia.
Why Is It So Hard To Figure Out?
The reason why it is so hard for scientists to figure out exactly what happened to dogs is that no one knows exactly how fast dogs' genes have changed and there is no living group of wolves that are more closely related to dogs than any other. This means that the wolves that originally gave rise to dogs are now extinct.
Although we may never know exactly how dogs came to be, we couldn’t be happier with the way it worked out.
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