Saturday, January 19, 2008

Early origin of dogs pushed back...

Plowing around, looking for the origins of domestic dogs, I found this bit on 

People have long wondered about the circumstances that led prehistoric dogs to come, sit, and permanently stay, thus creating the first human-animal bond. Researchers have generally based their interpretation of the origins of the domesticated dog on archaeological records. In the past decade, however, molecular biologists have started to study canine DNA to trace the complex ancestry of the more than 400 dog breeds and related canine species.

Dog genes are telling a radically different story from dog bones. An analysis in the June 13 Science concludes that dogs were domesticated much earlier than archaeologists maintain. Instead of a 10,000- to 20,000-year time frame, Robert K. Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles and his colleagues now have evidence that dogs could have been domesticated 100,000 years ago -- if not earlier.

That conclusion has raised some hackles.

"I'm flabbergasted," says Brisbin.

"It's bound to be controversial because it's such an early date," says Marion Schwartz of Yale University. Schwartz's book, A History of Dogs in the Early Americas (Yale University Press), was released this month.

Other researchers find the result convincing, however surprising. The report "has really very compelling data," says Elaine Ostrander, a molecular biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who is collaborating on a study of the dog genome. "It's a fascinating and exciting story."

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