Swedish study traces origins of man’s best friend

A team of Swedish and Chinese researchers has discovered that the first ever dogs emerged in an area south of the Yangtze River in China some 16,000 years ago.

Swedish study traces origins of man's best friend
Not the first ever dog.

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.

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.

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