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October 21, 2016
Q. How did dogs become “man's best friend” twice over?
A. “It now looks as if dogs emerged from not one but two wolf families at opposite ends of Eurasia,” says Alice Klein in New Scientist magazine. Comparing the genomes of a 400-year-old dog skull from Ireland and of DNA samples from 59 ancient dogs, with genomes of more than 600 modern pooches from across Eurasia, Laurent Frantz at the University of Oxford found that “dogs originated from two separate wolf populations in the eastern and western halves of Eurasia. Then, between 14,000 and 6,400 years ago, people brought Asian dogs westwards, where they partially replaced their European counterparts.” Few modern dogs, though, have pure European or Asian roots: for example, the Tibetan mastiff has largely Asian lineage; German shepherds are more closely aligned to ancient European dogs (Science magazine).
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