Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Modern dog breeds genetically disconnected from ancient ancestors

Date:
May 21, 2012
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
Cross-breeding of dogs over thousands of years has made it extremely difficult to trace the ancient genetic roots of today's pets, according to a new study.

Salukis appear genetically different because they were geographically isolated and were not part of the 19th century Victorian-initiated Kennel Clubs that blended lineages to create most of the breeds we keep as pets today.
Credit: Keith Dobney

Cross-breeding of dogs over thousands of years has made it extremely difficult to trace the ancient genetic roots of today's pets, according to a new study led by Durham University.

Related Articles


An international team of scientists analyzed data of the genetic make-up of modern-day dogs, alongside an assessment of the global archaeological record of dog remains, and found that modern breeds genetically have little in common with their ancient ancestors.

Dogs were the first domesticated animals and the researchers say their findings will ultimately lead to greater understanding of dogs' origins and the development of early human civilization.

Although many modern breeds look like those depicted in ancient texts or in Egyptian pyramids, cross-breeding across thousands of years has meant that it is not accurate to label any modern breeds as "ancient," the researchers said.

Breeds such as the Akita, Afghan Hound and Chinese Shar-Pei, which have been classed as "ancient," are no closer to the first domestic dogs than other breeds due to the effects of lots of cross-breeding, the study found.

Other effects on the genetic diversity of domestic dogs include patterns of human movement and the impact on dog population sizes caused by major events, such as the two World Wars, the researchers added.

The findings were published May 21 in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS). The Durham-led research team was made up of scientists from a number of universities including Uppsala University, Sweden, and the Broad Institute, in the USA.

In total the researchers analysed genetic data from 1,375 dogs representing 35 breeds. They also looked at data showing genetic samples of wolves, with recent genetic studies suggesting that dogs are exclusively descended from the grey wolf.

Lead author Dr Greger Larson, an evolutionary biologist in Durham University's Department of Archaeology, said the study demonstrated that there is still a lot we do not know about the early history of dog domestication including where, when, and how many times it took place.

Dr Larson added: "We really love our dogs and they have accompanied us across every continent.

"Ironically, the ubiquity of dogs combined with their deep history has obscured their origins and made it difficult for us to know how dogs became man's best friend.

"All dogs have undergone significant amounts of cross-breeding to the point that we have not yet been able to trace all the way back to their very first ancestors."

Several breeds, including Basenjis, Salukis and Dingoes, possess a differing genetic signature, which previous studies have claimed to be evidence for their ancient heritage, the research found.

However the study said that the unique genetic signatures in these dogs was not present because of a direct heritage with ancient dogs. Instead these animals appeared genetically different because they were geographically isolated and were not part of the 19th Century Victorian-initiated Kennel Clubs that blended lineages to create most of the breeds we keep as pets today.

The study also suggested that within the 15,000 year history of dog domestication, keeping dogs as pets only began 2,000 years ago and that until very recently, the vast majority of dogs were used to do specific jobs.

Dr Larson said: "Both the appearance and behavior of modern breeds would be deeply strange to our ancestors who lived just a few hundred years ago.

"And so far, anyway, studying modern breeds hasn't yet allowed us to understand how, where and when dogs and humans first started this wonderful relationship."

The researchers added that DNA sequencing technology is faster and cheaper than ever and could soon lead to further insights into the domestication and subsequent evolution of dogs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Durham University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Larson, E. K. Karlsson, A. Perri, M. T. Webster, S. Y. W. Ho, J. Peters, P. W. Stahl, P. J. Piper, F. Lingaas, M. Fredholm, K. E. Comstock, J. F. Modiano, C. Schelling, A. I. Agoulnik, P. A. Leegwater, K. Dobney, J.-D. Vigne, C. Vila, L. Andersson, K. Lindblad-Toh. Rethinking dog domestication by integrating genetics, archeology, and biogeography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203005109

Cite This Page:

Durham University. "Modern dog breeds genetically disconnected from ancient ancestors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120521163845.htm>.
Durham University. (2012, May 21). Modern dog breeds genetically disconnected from ancient ancestors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120521163845.htm
Durham University. "Modern dog breeds genetically disconnected from ancient ancestors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120521163845.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins