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Complete Mitochondrial Genomes of Ancient Canids Suggest a European Origin of Domestic Dogs

Science  15 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6160, pp. 871-874
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243650

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Dog Domestication

The precise details of the domestication and origins of domestic dogs are unclear. Thalmann et al. (p. 871; see the cover) analyzed complete mitochondrial genomes from present-day dogs and wolves, as well as 18 fossil canids dating from 1000 to 36,000 years ago from the Old and New Worlds. The data suggest that an ancient, now extinct, central European population of wolves was directly ancestral to domestic dogs. Furthermore, several ancient dogs may represent failed domestication events.

Abstract

The geographic and temporal origins of the domestic dog remain controversial, as genetic data suggest a domestication process in East Asia beginning 15,000 years ago, whereas the oldest doglike fossils are found in Europe and Siberia and date to >30,000 years ago. We analyzed the mitochondrial genomes of 18 prehistoric canids from Eurasia and the New World, along with a comprehensive panel of modern dogs and wolves. The mitochondrial genomes of all modern dogs are phylogenetically most closely related to either ancient or modern canids of Europe. Molecular dating suggests an onset of domestication there 18,800 to 32,100 years ago. These findings imply that domestic dogs are the culmination of a process that initiated with European hunter-gatherers and the canids with whom they interacted.

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