Scientists have discovered that dogs were the very first creatures domesticated by man. Extensive research into the topic and how our canine friends came to be as unearthed fossils buried alongside humans, which DNA studies have indicated are over 32 000 years old.
Scientists do generally agree that dogs originate from wolves. Their wolf ancestors slowly became domesticated as they associated with people. It is hard to say but the speculation is that these wolves were drawn to areas occupied by humans because of food and carcasses left over by hunters and during this time the wolves became tamer. This then lead to people beginning to use the wolves for hunting and guard duty. Over a long period of time wolves evolved into domesticated dogs.
Modern day sees us with such wide array of dog breeds – from tiny Yorkshire Terriers to the Great Dane so sometimes it can be difficult to believe that all of these dogs came from wolves!
In order to establish the facts researchers gathered DNA and fossils from 20 wolf-like creatures from over 36,000 years ago. Scientists then compared the genetic material of these remains to a wide array of modern dog breeds – including the Basenji, the Cocker Spaniel and the Golden retriever. Through study the results it was found that there were many similarities between the ancient specimens and the modern canine.
So how has this come about?
Scientists speculate that the populations of tame wolves became isolated from the rest of the wolf population which led to them breeding more closely. When this ‘in-breeding’ occurred it resulted in genetic changes, known as mutations which when those animals with ‘differences’ reproduced it carried these genetic changes down along the line which could then be concreted into a distinct dog lineage by continuing to breed dogs throughout time.
Research still continues today but so far around 80% of dog breeds are classed as modern breeds, having evolved in the last few hundred years with the other 20% of canine’s holding ancient history which go back thousands of years!
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