Dogs descended from wolves? Not so fast.
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By Phyllis Stark. CREATED Jan 18, 2014
A new study might debunk the long-held notion that dogs are descendants of wolves.
Research published in the current issue of PLoS Genetics found that “dogs were more closely related to each other than they were to the wolves. The wolves, too, were closely related to each other than to the dogs,” reports The Christian Science Monitor. “Additionally, the scientists did not see a clear evidence linking dogs to any of the living wolves that were sampled.”
An international team of researchers studied the genes of dogs from three gray wolves – one each from China, Croatia, and Israel, the three countries where dogs are believed to have originated, the paper reports.
“This shakes up the popular belief on domestication of dogs that are considered to be these ‘few docile, friendly wolves’ which later became dogs after they were adopted by early farmers. Instead, the earliest dogs might have started out among hunter-gatherers before adjusting to an agricultural life later, Adam Freedman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the lead author on the study, told the Monitor.”
The paper further reports that “there does exist some amount of genetic overlap between some modern dogs and wolves. But this is thought to be the result of interbreeding after dogs were domesticated, not a direct line of descent from one group of wolves.”