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A group of scientists have under taken the largest-ever survey of worldwide canine genetic diversity, and have found strong evidence to suggest dogs were first domesticated in Central Asia, likely to be around Nepal and Mongolia.
The study, which is published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Adam Boyko from Cornell University and his team analysed over 185,00 genetic markers from more than 4,600 purebred dogs of 165 breeds, together with over 540 village dogs from 38 countries. That’s no mean feat!
The international team of researchers found that dogs from East Asia, India and South West Asia had high levels of genetic diversity. This suggests that domestic dogs may have originated in Central Asia and spread to East Asia and beyond.
While this study is a significant step forward in solving this age-old mystery of where man’s best friend originated from, the scientists cautioned saying “we cannot rule out the possibility that dogs were domesticated elsewhere and subsequently, either through migration or a separate domestication event.”
While this study doesn’t reveal whether these early dogs were assisting in hunts with humans or just scavenging from their food scraps, it does correlate with what archaeologists have long believed – that Central Asia was a likely origin of domestic dog.