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Swedish study traces origins of man's best friend

Theresa Oz-Gun · 3 Sep 2009, 12:13

Published: 03 Sep 2009 12:13 GMT+02:00

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Peter Savolainen, a biology researcher at Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), led the research group that has managed to specify the date and birthplace of the dog.

The study illustrates that dogs originated in Asia, south of the Yangtze River in China about 16,000 years ago, and descend from several hundred tamed wolves.

"I am very happy about what we have accomplished so far. For the first time in world history it is possible to provide a precise picture of the dog, with its birthplace and how many wolves were tamed," Savolainen told The Local.

Researchers have previously been unable to accurately pinpoint the date and birthplace of the dog.

“Our earlier findings from 2002 were not entirely accepted, since we did not have enough DNA samples to examine. But with our new data today, the research guarantees a much more detailed picture,” said Savolainen.

The date is felt by researchers to tally well with the switch from a hunter-gatherer society to a farming community, which is estimated to have occurred 10,000 to 12,000 years ago in the area near the Yangtze River.

Story continues below…

Savolainen's findings are explained in more detail in the scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The study also provides several exciting theories, including suggestions that the first dogs may have been used as herders and guard dogs and probably ended their lives in the stomachs of humans.

Theresa Oz-Gun (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:07 September 3, 2009 by Tomandjerry
does it mean that chinese started eating dogs ever since then?
13:43 September 3, 2009 by rio
Eating dogs isn't popular in most Chinese areas.

And there isn't the culture of dog eating in China comparing with Korea.
15:22 September 3, 2009 by ironman294
tomandjerry you are a racist prick.
16:15 September 3, 2009 by thegraou
Always wonder what is the ultimate aim of this kind of research...? If someone has an idea, please enlighten me! :)

@Ironman: why talking about racism as soon as there's a remark about a people...? In my opinion, there's nothing racist about saying we often hear that asian people eat dogs!
16:20 September 3, 2009 by peropaco
Ironman. They actually eat dogs in China, Malaysia etc. Nothing racist about that.
18:26 September 3, 2009 by TJSmith
Ok,I am at a loss as to why you used this particular picture of a dog? It seems it has nothing to do with the story. A dog has these kind of collars on because it is not to bite at a wound that needs to heal.
18:48 September 3, 2009 by Harding00
I was wondering too why they used this picture of a dog, but you have to admit, it is rather cute. And to answer your point thegraou about why they did the research, well, that is the cool thing about science, sometimes we research things to just plain know, and for no other reasons. But then again all science builds upon itself, so even though it may seem rather pointless now, it might not be as pointless in the future. But also, anthropologists do research and digs all the time for no "apparent" reason, other than so we can find out where we came from, evolved from, and who we once were as people. I don't think all science research has to be done for a "practical" reason.
21:13 September 3, 2009 by pedro3
It seems as though this is a puff piece to have The Local bypass the Great Firewall. Not a fan.
23:44 September 3, 2009 by justanotherexpat
Bloody immigrant dogs, coming here, taking our bitches.....(/mode sarcasm)
14:27 September 4, 2009 by jglammi
Savolainen is a Finnish name.
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