According to new research, though, we started dogs on the path of domestication well before 11,000 years ago. By carefully sequencing the DNA of ancient dogs, researchers found that there were already at least five distinct genetic lineages at the end of the last ice age.
They also sequenced contemporaneous human DNA to trace the relationship between our two species over the millennia.
It was these early lineages, the researchers say, that were the basis for the many different dogs we know and love today.
"If we look back more than four or five thousand years ago, we can see that Europe was a very diverse place when it came to dogs," said geneticist Anders Bergström of the Francis Crick Institute in the UK.
"Although the European dogs we see today come in such an extraordinary array of shapes and forms, genetically they derive from only a very narrow subset of the diversity that used to exist."
We know that all domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) are descended from a wolf ancestor shared with today's grey wolf (Canis lupus). But precisely when that divergence occurred has been a matter of some debate. Some claim domestication - the process of slowly breeding wolves to select for more friendly traits - began over 100,000 years ago, although that interpretation is controversial.
--Our Canine Best Friends Were Surprisingly Diverse Already 11,000 Years Ago
-RETRIEVED-Fri Oct 30 2020 06:10:54 GMT+0100 (Central European Standard Time)