Before we jump into the origin of the dog. I’ve got a story to share.
One morning, as I was sitting on my back porch, drinking my coffee. I was watching my dogs play as they ran the 2 acres. I noticed a bunny who had happened to wander into the field!
My immediate thought was “You better get out of there thumper”!
Instead of running, “thumper” decided to continue to just hop around. Eating grass almost like he didn’t notice My 2 mastiffs’ and my “sheepdog” less than 100 yards away!
Actually, to be completely honest with you, I didn’t even think my dogs noticed “Thumper”! Which wasn’t surprising due to them chasing each other trying to get the KONG they were playing with.
But boy, was I was wrong! LOL
I noticed my 2 mastiffs’ ween away to the far left along the tree line. My “sheepdog” was laying down just chewing away on his favorite toy! I figured my mastiffs got bored, which wouldn’t be surprising either!
Next thing you know, I saw my male mastiff disappear into the trees. And my female starts to walk back towards me. While my sheepdog started to do the same but on the opposite side of the yard.
As they were getting closer to thumper, I think he finally noticed my sheepdog and the only reason I say that is due to thumper now sitting up straight in “HIGH ALERT”!
Out of nowhere, my sheepdog dropped his KONG and took off at full speed towards thumper! Which caused thumper to take off back towards the woods where he thought he would make a swift escape, but instead my male mastiff came bolting out of the woods, which caused thumper to change directions again! And now, that’s where my female mastiff came into play, as she was waiting for the bunny to make its move!
THE CHASE WAS ON!!!!!
But it didn’t last too long, with the way that my 3 dogs worked together and collectively used their “PACK MIND”! The chase was over before it started!!
As my male came running out of the woods, causing “thumper” to change directions, he ran straight to my female who was easily able to grab him!
Immediately, I jumped up and started to freak out a little bit, cause I most definitely didn’t want thumper to get hurt( or any of my dogs catch worms from the poor animal.
To my surprise, my female came trotting up to the porch with poor “thumper” hanging from her mouth. I thought for sure it was too late, but instead, she was carrying him, Just like I’ve seen her do multiple times with her very own puppies! Thumper was alive with no injuries!!!
My female brought me a present!!! and although I was thankful for my new GIFT, I told her to “LET IT GO”, she layed down, opened her mouth, and Thumper disappeared somewhere into the woods! Sure enough, all the dogs took back off towards their toy!
Thinking about the events that just happened! The way they teamed up to capture their prey, got me wondering “Where did my they actually come from” “How did they know to use each other to get their win”???
Where did my best friend come from?
Did you know, your best friend hasn’t always been a household animal! For that, we actually had to wait for history to take its course, the dog’s ancestors are not 100% Asian, as most geneticists believed.
Your best friend is said to be the cross between a “cousin” domesticated in East Asia and one domesticated in Western Europe.
This is what an international study shows for the first time.
What animal is the dog initially descended from?
To know the origin of the dog we must go back to the first canids that appeared in North America since the first known canid is the Prohesperocyon, which inhabited the current area of Texas 40 million years ago. It was the size of a raccoon, but slimmer, and it had longer legs than its arboreal ancestors.
The largest canid recognized was Epicyon. With a very robust head, more like a lion or a hyena than a wolf. It is unknown if it would be a scavenger or if it would hunt in groups like the current wolf. They were still confined to present-day North America and date between 20 and 5 million years ago. This reached one and a half meters and 150 kg in weight.
The origin of the wolf, the dog, and other canids:
25 million years ago, in North America, the group was divided, which caused the appearance of the oldest relatives of wolves, raccoons, and jackals. And with the continuous cooling of the planet, 8 million years ago, the Bering Strait bridge appeared, which allowed these groups to reach Eurasia where they would reach their highest degree of diversification. In Eurasia, the first Canis lupus made its appearance, just half a million years ago and 250 thousand years ago it returned to North America through the Bering Strait.
Does the dog come from the wolf?
In 1871 Charles Darwin began the multiple ancestor theory, which proposed that the dog descended from coyotes, wolves, and jackals. However, in 1954, Konrad Lorenz ruled out the coyote as the origin of the dog and proposed that the Nordic races descended from the wolf and that the others descended from the jackal.
So does the dog descend from the wolf?
Currently, thanks to DNA sequencing, it has been possible to verify that the dog, the wolf, the coyote, and the jackal share DNA sequences and that the most similar ones are those of the dog and the wolf. A study published in 2014 ensures that the dog and the wolf belong to the same species, but that they are different subspecies. It is estimated that dogs and wolves could have had a common ancestor, but there are no conclusive studies.
The First encounters with humans:
Putting ourselves in the situation, when 200 thousand years ago the first humans left Africa and arrived in Europe, the canids were already there. They coexisted as competitors for a long period until they began their association approximately 30 thousand years ago.
Genetic studies date the first dogs as such 15 thousand years ago, in the Asian area that corresponds to today’s China, coinciding with the beginning of agriculture. Recent research from 2013 by the Swedish University of Uppsala affirms that the domestication of the dog was linked to genetic differences between the wolf and the dog linked to the development of the nervous system and the metabolism of starch.
As the first farmers, who produced highly energetic starch-rich foods, were established, groups of opportunistic canids approached human settlements, scavenging starch-rich plant debris. These early dogs were also less aggressive than wolves, which made domestication easier.
The diet rich in starch was decisive for the species to prosper since the genetic variations that these dogs had suffered made their survival unviable with the exclusively carnivorous diet of their ancestors.
The herds of dogs obtained food from the village so they defended the territory of other animals, a fact that benefited humans, we could then talk about how the symbiosis allowed a rapprochement of both species, which would end up culminating in the domestication of the dog.
The origin of the domestic dog:
Coppinger’s theory states that 15,000 years ago canids came to settlements in search of easy food. It could then happen that the more docile and confident dogs were more likely to access food than those who were distrustful of humans, therefore, the more sociable and docile dogs had greater access to resources, which led to greater survival, which would, therefore, imply new generations of docile dogs. This theory rules out that it was the man who approached the dog for the first time to domesticate it.
Tracing the precise history of the domestication of the dog is crucial for basic research.
This subject requires an interdisciplinary approach, as illustrated by a new international study. [“Genomic and archaeological evidence suggest a dual origin of domestic dogs”, Science, June 1, 2016], that brings together archaeozoologists and paleogeneticists.
Led by a team from the University of Oxford in England, this work mobilized several French laboratories.
[ National paleogenetics platform (CNRS / ENS de Lyon), Institute of functional genomics of Lyon (CNRS / ENS de Lyon / Univ. Lyon 1), Laboratory of alpine ecology (CNRS / Univ. Joseph Fourier / Univ. of Savoy); Archaeozoology, archaeobotany: societies, practices, environments (CNRS / MNHN); Institute of Genetics and Development of Rennes (CNRS / Univ. De Rennes 1)].
“Knowing more about this allows us to learn more about our history. The history of the dog is part of the history of mankind,” explains Anne Tresset, archaeozoologist in Paris and co-author of the study.
Indeed, on the one hand, the dog has the particularity of being the first to have been domesticated by man. “It has lived in human societies since the end of the Upper Paleolithic that is to say since the fewer 15,000 years”.
Mans Best Friend
On the other hand, the dog has a very special status. “He is man’s best friend, and probably was from the beginning. For example, bones of dogs have been found alongside the deceased in tombs in the Near-Eastern Natufian culture. Dating back to the Epipaleolithic, so over 11,000 years ago … “, continues Anne Tresset.
Not only one, domestication of wolves … but TWO!
Specifically, the new study suggests that the dog derives not from one, but two independent domestications of wolves. One, which occurred in Europe at least 15,000 years ago. And the other, in East Asia, at least 12,500 years ago.
Then between the 5th and 4th millennium BC, dogs from Asia would have migrated to Europe. Probably at the same time as human populations. There, they would have bred with European dogs. Their descendants would then gradually replace the original dogs.
Archaeozoologists have suspected a dual origin of the dog for several decades already. This is thanks to the study of the remains of ancient dogs. Dating from the end of the Upper Paleolithic or the Epipaleolithic.
The geneticists remained convinced that there had been one domestication in Asia.
For good reason:
The geneticists in question analyzed the DNA of current dogs. Which mainly belong to a particular set of genetic lines, of Asian origin: Haplogroup A.
“The confusion with this approach is that. In the event completely erasing the previous gene pool of the population analyzed – as here. The arrival of Asian dogs in Europe. It is impossible to “see” what was there before. Before the arrival of Asian dogs, dogs already existed in Western Europe, that belongs to haplogroup C… ”, explains Anne Tresset.
Dating back to the time of the very first dogs:
“The strength of the new study is precise. It has allowed the analysis for the first time of the DNA of numerous archaeological remains. Covering a long period of the dog’s history. The oldest dating back to 14,000 years, that is to say, the beginning of the evolutionary history of this mammal”. Also, samples came from different geographical areas in Europe (France, Switzerland, Germany, Romania…) and Asia (Iran, Turkmenistan, Asian Russia)”, underlines the Lyon paleogenetics Catherine Hänni [4. National paleogenetics platform, Lyon Institute of Functional Genomics, Alpine Ecology Laboratory].
Concretely, the researchers reconstructed the evolutionary history of dogs. They did this by studying 59 archaeological remains of dogs that lived between 14,000 and 3,000 years ago.
Scientists extracted ancient DNA from these bones and then sequenced mitochondrial DNA (found in particular structures of cells: the mitochondria). The complete genome of the remains of a 4,800year-old dog has also been sequenced.
Lyon team of Catherine Hänni – extracted and sequenced DNA from the bones collected by archaeozoologists.
Finally, the Oxford team performed computer modeling using ancient genetic sequences and those of 2,500 modern dogs previously studied. This ultimately allowed the dog’s evolutionary tree to be reconstructed.
Surprisingly, this modeling revealed a discrepancy. Between dogs native to East Asia and those from Europe, dating back to less than 14,000 years ago. After the dog first appeared in Europe! Hence the conclusion that there were originally two distinct populations of dogs: one in Asia and one in Europe.
Another important finding:
A Mitochondrial DNA analyzes of modern and ancient dogs. Showed that while the majority of ancient European dogs belonged to haplogroup C (60% of dogs) or D (20%). Most modern European dogs are haplogroup A (64%) and B (22%). Both of Asian origins, which is consistent with the arrival of dogs from Asia in Europe.