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Arctic-adapted dogs emerged at the Pleistocene–Holocene transition

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Science  26 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1495-1499
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz8599

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Sled dog arctic adaptations go far back

Dogs have been used for sledding in the Arctic as far back as ∼9500 years ago. However, the relationships among the earliest sled dogs, other dog populations, and wolves are unknown. Sinding et al. sequenced an ancient sled dog, 10 modern sled dogs, and an ancient wolf and analyzed their genetic relationships with other modern dogs. This analysis indicates that sled dogs represent an ancient lineage going back at least 9500 years and that wolves bred with the ancestors of sled dogs and precontact American dogs. However, gene flow between sled dogs and wolves likely stopped before ∼9500 years ago.

Science, this issue p. 1495

Abstract

Although sled dogs are one of the most specialized groups of dogs, their origin and evolution has received much less attention than many other dog groups. We applied a genomic approach to investigate their spatiotemporal emergence by sequencing the genomes of 10 modern Greenland sled dogs, an ~9500-year-old Siberian dog associated with archaeological evidence for sled technology, and an ~33,000-year-old Siberian wolf. We found noteworthy genetic similarity between the ancient dog and modern sled dogs. We detected gene flow from Pleistocene Siberian wolves, but not modern American wolves, to present-day sled dogs. The results indicate that the major ancestry of modern sled dogs traces back to Siberia, where sled dog–specific haplotypes of genes that potentially relate to Arctic adaptation were established by 9500 years ago.

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