Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend May Come from Central Asia
Dogs weren’t always the close friends of humans that they have been for the past 15,000 years. As most people already know, dogs were once wolves who were competing with humans for some of the same food.
But dogs are definitely the animal kingdom’s oldest friend to humans. So where did wolves change into the lovable dogs that we know today? Scientists generally agree that dogs have been domesticated for at least 15,000 years but haven’t always agreed on where that domestication took place.
The oldest archaeological findings of domesticated canines are from Europe and Siberia, two areas that are very far apart, thereby adding to the confusion. But just because scientists haven’t found archaeological evidence in other parts of the world doesn’t mean that dogs weren’t there.
Scientist Adam Boyko of Cornell University and his colleagues decided to study genetic markers in dogs from 38 countries instead of just looking at archaeological evidence.
This study of canine genetics from various areas in the world is the largest ever. Their analysis of more than 5,000 dogs, both purebreds and mixed breeds, indicates that dogs were most likely domesticated in Central Asia, probably in the area we know today as Nepal or Mongolia.
Why did wolves become friends with humans? Scientists have many theories about that as well, but it seems reasonable that as humans became better hunters, competition became more of a problem for wolves. And some of them may have found it easier to scavenge scraps from humans, eventually becoming completely reliant.
However it happened, many of us dog lovers are very happy with the results. It’s so nice to come home after a hard day at the office to the unconditional love of our 4-legged canine friends.