|The 33,000 Ka old dog
Ancient mtDNA from the oldest known dog remains (ref. of its discovery in 2011
) places it unmistakably in the dog subspecies. This does not just confirm that domestic dogs existed do far back in time but also that modern domestic dogs have such deep origins.
Anna S. Druzhkova et al., Ancient DNA Analysis Affirms the Canid from Altai as a Primitive Dog. PLoS ONE 2013. Open access → LINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057754]
The origin of domestic dogs remains controversial, with genetic data indicating a separation between modern dogs and wolves in the Late Pleistocene. However, only a few dog-like fossils are found prior to the Last Glacial Maximum, and it is widely accepted that the dog domestication predates the beginning of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. In order to evaluate the genetic relationship of one of the oldest dogs, we have isolated ancient DNA from the recently described putative 33,000-year old Pleistocene dog from Altai and analysed 413 nucleotides of the mitochondrial control region. Our analyses reveal that the unique haplotype of the Altai dog is more closely related to modern dogs and prehistoric New World canids than it is to contemporary wolves. Further genetic analyses of ancient canids may reveal a more exact date and centre of domestication.
The Altaian Upper Paleolithic dog belongs to clade A, the most common one among modern dogs, including some pre-Columbian lineages from America and such different breeds as the Siberian Husky, the Irish Setter, the Dachshund, the Toy Poodle or the Pug, just to mention a few (see Supp. Table 2 for a longer list).
The authors also compared the lineage with Upper Paleolithic wolf remains from Altai, which are not closely related.
|Figure 2. Consensus Neighbour Joining
tree (1,000 bootstrap steps) built assuming the Tamura-Nei substitution
model, the best fit model for the dataset comprising complete
mitochondrial genomes from coyotes (Coyotes), wolves (OWW, NWW – Old and
New World wolves, respectively) and dogs combined with partial control
region sequences from the Altai specimen (Altai dog) and additional
prehistoric canids (pre-Columbian dogs, eastern Beringian wolves).
highlighted all clades containing modern dogs in light blue and
enlarged Clade A for better visibility. The position of the Altai
specimen is marked with a light blue arrow in the enlargement. Bootstrap
values are shown with an asterisk whenever larger than 50.
Surely the presence of four different generic Canis lupus mtDNA clades in modern dogs indicates the domestication of at least four different wolf females, either in the same or different places.
|Gravettian dog with bone (ref)
This finding puts to rest the Neolithic hypothesis of the origin of modern dogs (alleged second domestication, because UP dogs were known) and is at least consistent with my favorite hypothesis of dog domestication in SE Asia
, ref 2
) within the context of the early expansion of Homo sapiens in Eurasia-Australasia in the late Middle Pleistocene, with backflow via South Asia to the West, where dogs may have played a decisive role in the long-term competition with the strong and intelligent Neanderthals.