The longtime debate about where the first domesticated dogs appeared has concluded at last. A DNA study conducted by Adam Boyko of Cornell University and his colleagues to locate the first pet dog found that man's best friend evolved from wild Eurasian gray wolves 15,000 years ago in present day Nepal and Mongolia. The study revealed the wild wolves were domesticated in order to easily find food and shelter and began hunting alongside humans.
To solve the longstanding mystery about the dogs' origin, the research team analyzed over 185,800 genetic markers in more than 4,600 purebred dogs of 165 breeds, along with more than 540 street dogs that represented 38 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East and islands north and east of Australia. Offering information about the details of the study, Boyko said they focused on street dogs, which have great importance in today's dog breed variety, adding: "The previous studies showed that pet dogs are originated from a single descendant. We are supposing that wolves decided to feed on the carcasses of animals that were killed by man instead of hunting by themselves. This might have resulted in a decrease in their body size. In fact, we might say that the dogs were domesticated of their own free will. They gambled by depending on mankind; however, they became victorious as there are more than 1 billion dogs around the world while the number of wolves on earth is not more than 10 million."
Some archaeologists have long believed Central Asia was a likely origin for the domestication of dogs, but genetic studies have been lacking. Still, the study cautioned that "we cannot rule out the possibility that dogs were domesticated elsewhere." More studies are needed to confirm the findings and to determine whether these early dogs were just scavenging scraps from hunter-gatherers or if they were assisting in the hunts.
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