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.

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 October 20, 2014 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 October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Two white lion cubs were born in Belgrade zoo three weeks ago. White lions are a rare mutation of a species found in South Africa and some cultures consider them divine. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

AP (Oct. 16, 2014) With hard cider making a hardcore comeback across the country, craft makers are trying to keep up with demand and apple growers are tapping a juicy new revenue stream. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Buzz60 (Oct. 16, 2014) Garfi is one frowny, feisty feline - downright angry! Ko Im (@koimtv) introduces us to the latest animal celebrity taking over the Internet. You can follow more of Garfi's adventures on Twitter (@MeetGarfi) and Facebook (Garfi). 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