Dogs first appeared in Central Asia going against many previous studies which point to Europe, southern China, the Middle East and Asia.
Scientists are pretty consistent about the ancestors of dogs which are gray wolves. However, the region where they came from has always remained doubtful. Previous studies suggested that their origin can be traced back to Europe, southern China, the Middle East and Serbia.
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But for the first time, a study points to a new place, Central Asia, somewhere around what we call Nepal and Mongolia today.
Adam Bokyo at Cornell University and a group of international researchers examined the DNA of not only domestic dogs but also the dogs wandering in villages or streets.
A total of 4,500 dogs, 161 purebred and 549 free-ranging rural dogs were studied from 38 countries around the world. The genetic test revealed that the most ancient roots of dog points to Central Asian domestication origin. However, researchers were unable to find when they were exactly evolved.
"The fact that we looked at so many village dogs from so many different regions, we were able to narrow in on the patterns of diversity in these indigenous dogs.”Dr Boyko told BBC.
Dogs in East Asia, India and Southwest Asia contain a high level of genetic diversity due to the closeness to Central Asia.
“Geographic structure shows both isolation and gene flow have shaped genetic diversity in village dog populations.” Study reads.
“Some populations (notably those in the Neotropics and the South Pacific) are almost completely derived from European stock, whereas others are clearly admixed between indigenous and European dogs. Importantly, many populations—including those of Vietnam, India, and Egypt—show minimal evidence of European admixture. These populations exhibit a clear gradient of short-range linkage disequilibrium consistent with a Central Asian domestication origin.”
The latest analysis contradicts with many previous studies, which suggested that dogs evolved from wolves at least 15,000 years ago and came from Western Europe and Serbia. Boyko thinks even the new analysis can’t put an end to this controversy.
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“I’m not pretending my study alone is enough to rally the community together.” He said, but many other experts think that this large-scale survey is “a major step forward.”