Your dog’s ancestry finalized with science (he’s not related to who you think he is)

By on July 22, 2018

For many years, we’ve wondered where the current domestic canine came from, genetically speaking. Now, thanks to the research of scientists at Oxford, we know. Find out the whole story here, from The Atlantic. For a couple of mind-opening highlights, check out this list:

  • The closest living relative of the precolonial canines isn’t even a dog. It’s a contagious cancer…Canine transmissible venereal tumor, or CTVT
  • Scientists have analyzed over 70 very old dog remains and compared them to breeds we have today. There are traces of the very old pup DNA in modern dogs, but the link is so small that scientists wonder if the connection is even real.
  • The idea that our dogs descended from American wolves is false- grey wolves from Eurasia are related to domestic dogs in America though.
  • A fascinating direct quote from the Atlantic article: “But when Europeans arrived with dogs of their own, the native dogs started disappearing. Perhaps they were directly persecuted. Perhaps they were killed by introduced diseases, much like Native Americans themselves were. Today, they are almost entirely gone.”

If you’ve got 10 minutes, buzz through the original article linked to above. If you’re at all interested in biology, especially in today’s American canines, it’s worth your time.

The last paragraph of the article suggests something that has become a common trope among folks who study this stuff: like the human story the canine biological narrative is likely much more complex than we ever thought.

photo credit: Aubree Sweeney


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