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Origin of Dog Domestication: How Dogs Evolved to Become Man’s Best Friend

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Title: Origin of Dog Domestication: How Dogs Evolved to Become Man’s Best Friend

Background and rationale: Dogs as a man’s best friend has been a prevalent view point among modern day humans, and some even accept it as fact. However, the genetics behind what makes dogs so compatible with mankind, and the history of domestication are not well known to most. The time of divergence, and geographic origin of dog domestication has been greatly debated, though many firmly believe they are of Asian origin (research article). Many researchers have studied the effects of breeding programs on genetics (pure breed), however the genetics behind initial domestication of dogs from wild wolves has not been well studied. The three following publications focus on these areas, and most show similar findings.

Wang et al. 2013: Much unlike studies for the genetic component of phenotypic variation among modern breeds, the first transition stage involving transition from wolves to ancestral dogs has been understudied (Wang et al. 2013). Previous studies of the origin of dogs using mtDNA as well as Y chromosome has identified indigenous dogs from southeast Asia as the “basal lineage connecting to wild grey wolves” (Wang et al. 2013 p. 3). Populations of dogs and wolves split around 32kya with decreasingly common admixture due to undesirable traits of the hybridization (Wang et al. 2013). Wang et al. (2013) suggested that domestication of dogs may have been a continuous process beginning with commensal living and hunting between humans and scavenging wolves that were excluded from hunting packs. A series of evolutionary events selecting for genes in dogs, as well as parallel selection of genes in humans and dogs, lead to the modern day fully domest...

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...on phenotypic traits were more intense for breeding programs compared to behaviour traits.

Conclusion: Dog domestication origin appears to be highly complex and can still not be fully understood from a genetics perspective. Geographic origin of dog domestication as somewhere in southeastern Asia, and Chinese Native dogs most closely related to ancestral dogs was a consistent finding among researchers (Wang et al. 2013). Overall, the initial domestication process of dogs involved rapid brain gene expression evolution due to artificial selection, and breeding programs had insignificant amount of selection for gene expression in the brain (Yan et al. 2013).The time of divergence between ancestral dog and wolf was not consistent between findings. Future research could focus on DNA testing of ancient dog-like canines to determine a more accurate time for divergence.
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