The Origin of Dogs, A New Scenario Unfolds
The origin of dogs has long remained a mystery, with many of the blanks filled in by speculation on the part of scientists. There was agreement on the fact that dogs evolved from domesticated gray wolves, but as to the details of this occurrence, at least 17 different scenarios about the origin of dogs were offered up. It was believed that the first dogs appeared between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago, but there was a question as to where this occurred. As of late, an additional questioned has been posed: How many different times were dogs domesticated? Enter into the scene Dan Bradley.
Bradley, a professor at Trinity College in Dublin, discovered something of great interest to the debate at an archeological site in Newgrange, Ireland, dating back 4,800 years ago. There he found a petrous bone from the ear of a domesticated dog. This unique bone is excellent for DNA testing, with up to 80% accuracy. This allowed Bradley to create a family tree for ancient dogs.
What he found was that in moving backward through time, he found a split in the branch of the tree, indicating that there were two different origins for dogs, one in Eastern Eurasia and the other in Western Eurasia. Bradley believes this lineage began from a single origin in the east, as believed by scientists before him – probably China As migrants moved westward, they took their dogs with them, starting a second lineage that began in the west by breeding with the dogs already there.
Wait a minute, the dogs already there? Yes, that is right, because while Bradley’s find was dated back 4,800 years ago, the evidence for dogs in Europe goes back at least 5,200 years before the migration event! Although this is simply one man’s theory, it is an intriguing one. It would indicate that wolves were domesticated twice, not once, as previously believed.
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