Dogs are man’s best friend. Humans have had a close relationship with dogs of all shapes and sizes for hundreds of years. Whether you have a love for chihuahuas or terriers, you are not alone. According to the latest study published in the Science Journal, it was found that modern dogs have a genetic diversity that traces all the way back to before the end of the last Ice Age. The study linked Rex and Fido to ancient canines.
DNA extracted from the bones of ancient dogs was studied by researchers to identify the evolutionary changes that happened over the course of thousands of years. The study revealed that there were at least five different types of dogs towards the end of the Ice Age. Each of these dogs had distinct genetic ancestries. The dog lineages were found to be mixed and are present in dogs today.
Dogs are considered to be the first animal to have been domesticated by humans. The post-doctoral researcher and lead author at the Ancient Genomics Laboratory stated that even 11,000 years ago, dogs had diversified genetically and spread across the globe.
The team comprised of scientists at the University of Vienna, the University of Oxford, and the Francis Crick Institute. They found that chihuahuas have a lineage that is ancient. Although Rhodesian ridgebacks have European ancestry, it became visible that they have some African or Middle Eastern lineage. Similarly, dog breeds in Mexico like the Mexican hairless dogs and chihuahuas contain mostly European lineage but have managed to retain some of their pre-Columbian DNA.
All of the dog breeds of Europe have a similar history that began from an ancient mixture thousands of years ago between two distinct dog lineages that include dogs in Siberia and dogs in the Near East. The mixing of the two resulted in the European dog gene pool.
The researchers compared dog history and evolution with that of humans and came to know that the two mirror each other to a large extent. It suggests that humans have shaped the history of dogs. It was common for humans to take their dogs with them whenever they migrated. However, in certain cases, dogs reveal a different kind of history which suggests that there were also other influencing factors.
Dogs have evolved considerably over thousands of years. However, they are just as domestic as they used to be. The research also revealed that Europe had more diversity 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. It was at some stage that the diversity was lost.