Domesticated dogs have been involved in man’s history nearly as far back as mankind itself. In fact, researchers from Cornell University believe that domesticated dog’s first evolved 15,000 years ago in Central Asia.
But now, researchers from Kunming Institute of Zoology in China believe that they have found evidence to suggest that dog’s origins can be traced back to Southern China 33,000 years ago. If they are correct, it means that our history with dogs is nearly double what we originally thought.
In the Cornell study, published in October 2015, more than 185,800 genetic markers for 4,600 purebred dogs from 165 breeds were analyzed along with 540 mixed breed dogs from 38 countries. Based on the results of these analyses, the Cornell team determined that the earliest breeds appeared in Central Asia approximately 15,000 years ago.
In the new Chinese study, however, a few potential weaknesses of the Cornell study have been pointed out. Firstly, the definition of Central Asia included the countries of Mongolia and Nepal which are not technically considered part of this region.
Secondly, while the study had a large selection of samples, none were taken from dog populations from South China; a region believed to be important in the origin of domesticated dogs.
Building on the work presented by the Cornell team, the Chinese researchers looked at the genetic markers for 12 gray wolves, which are the modern dog’s closest relative, 27 primitive dogs from Asia and Africa, as well as 19 diverse breeds from around the world.
What they found was that dogs from southern China have genetic markers more similar to those of gray wolves than dogs from any other part of the world. This suggests that the earliest modern dogs did, in fact, originate from southern China approximately 33,000 years ago.
Whether man’s best friend originated 15,000 or 33,000 years ago, that’s still a heck of a long friendship!
H/t to The Times of India