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Dog Genome

June 6, 2016

Today’s dogs may have arisen from two different wolf populations, on opposite sides of Eurasia.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Dual origins of our canine companions. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Today’s dogs, from toy poodles to St. Bernards, all descended from wolves, domesticated by humans more than fourteen thousand years ago. But, when and where did it happen? Oxford evolutionary biologist Greger Larson and his colleagues report in the journal Science on DNA analysis of a 5000-year-old dog ear bone found in Ireland.

GREGER LARSON (Oxford University):

When we compared that genome against modern dogs what we saw was there was a really deep split between dogs in east Asia and dogs in western Eurasia.

HIRSHON:

That suggests dogs were domesticated twice, once in Europe and once in eastern Asia, and later interbred. Thousands of years of breeding dogs for desirable traits could have led humans to use similar techniques to breed pigs, horses, and also food crops— core developments in the foundation of human civilization. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.