What is the origin of the dog? Who are his ancestors?


To wonder what is the origin of the dog is to enter the wonderful world of genetics and want to know more about the mystery of the origin of species. So ready for the trip? Let’s go !

Understanding the origin of the dog is important for science

Understanding where the dog came from is important for basic research because the history of the dog is closely linked to that of humans. It is indeed the first animal to have been domesticated. This was done at the end of the Upper Paleolithic, at least 15,000 years ago, while cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were not until 4,500 years later, at the start of the Neolithic. .
Archaeological discoveries have made it possible to discover the presence of dog bones in tombs of the Near-Eastern Natufian culture dating back 11,000 years. Scientists believe they can detect the sign of a great proximity between man and animal, confirming that it may well be the “best friend of man ”.

Does the origin of the dog have something to do with wolves?

Yes, this is not a legend! The wolf is the ancestor of the dog. But a study, the results of which were published in June 2016, clarified this origin.

The dog derives from two domestications of wolves:

  • one in Europe, at least 15,000 years ago,
  • the other, in East Asia, at least 12,500 years ago.

It was then between – 5000 and – 3000 that men migrated from Asia to Europe, taking their domesticated wolves with them. The population of domesticated wolves in Europe would then have died out in favor of a new population mixing the populations of Asia and Europe.

Educational mistakes made because of the wolf

Domestication has changed the behavior of the wolf which has gradually adapted. Today, the dog can decode the signals emitted by the man. It is, however, starting from the wolf and models of hierarchy in wild groups that dog training councils have for a long time been issued. However, these are today called into question. There is no longer any question of a dominance / subordination relationship.

What predominates today is the balance interactions. Since the animal has the memory of interactions, the quality of its relationship to humans depends on the sum of these, classified into negative, positive and neutral. If overall the sum is positive, the dog will seek contact with humans. Which finally seems quite logical and observable on a daily basis.

Dogs exhibit great social intelligence and a great deal of emotional sensitivity. Research shows that the interpretation of human looks and nods can influence their decisions. Like humans, not all dogs have the same abilities, but the most gifted dogs can remember 1,000 different words. And they’re not just sensitive to the words themselves, but to the way they are said. However, we must be careful that this sensitivity of dogs towards humans does not lead us to exaggerate their intelligence …

The strength of science

The study which made it possible to refute the idea that the dog had only one origin, Asia, was possible thanks to the analysis of the DNA of archaeological remains, with a great diversity of provenance: Europe (France, Switzerland, Germany, Romania…) and Asia (Iran, Turkmenistan, Asian Russia). The complete genome from a 4,800-year-old dog was thus sequenced.

This study also shows the immense wealth of scientific interdisciplinarity since it associated two ways of analyzing the world, two points of view, that of archaeozoologists and that of paleogeneticists. The former provided the archaeological remains of dogs and the latter extracted and sequenced DNA from the bones. Computer modeling has also been an important part of the work to reconstruct the dog’s evolutionary tree.

There are still unanswered questions: why are there differences in size between dogs from Western Europe and those from Eastern Europe, what are the factors behind the evolution of the size, color and shape of the dogs.

The contribution of genetics to understanding the origins of humanity

Because we know more and more how to “talk” the cells and their DNA which is transmitted from generation to generation, being preserved for a long time in dead organisms, our knowledge concerning the evolution and the migration of the species evolves a lot these last. decades, sometimes upsetting what we believed to be certainties.

Genetics studies the genetic makeup (DNA), but paleogenetics developed in the early 2000s to focus on studying the genetic makeup of old samples. The progressive improvement of techniques now allows the sequencing of an entire genome, which gives access, not only to the history of the maternal line, as was the case in the beginnings of this science, but to the whole of the genetic heritage of individuals, which necessarily enriches the information. The “paleogenomics”Now designates that branch of paleogenetics which is dedicated to the study of the complete DNA sequences of ancient samples.

Species keep evolving

What science tells us fundamentally is that the world is constantly changing. Life is movement! There would be no more life on Earth if it stopped spinning …

Thus, we learn that some populations ofHomo sapiens did not have descendants, that European or Siberian wolf lines became extinct. The biodiversity is constantly changing, because the environment and the climate are also constantly changing, depending on factors that we are far from controlling in all their complexity.

The astronomical theory of climates thus develops the idea according to which the long-term variations of the orbit and of the Earth’s rotation generate variations in the amount of sunshine received by the Earth, variations which lead to climate change. The sun, the moon and the other planets of the solar system disturb the movement of the Earth, but also its orientation. Although long rejected by the scientific community, this theory was finally demonstrated in the 1970s.

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