Dogs are more than man’s best friend: They may be partners in humans’ evolutionary journey, according to a new study.
The study shows that dogs split from gray wolves about 32,000 years ago, and that since then, domestic dogs‘ brains and digestive organs have evolved in ways very similar to the brains and organs of humans.
The findings suggest a more ancient origin for dog domestication than previously suggested. They also hint that a common environment drove both dog and human evolution for thousands of years.
“As domestication is often associated with large increases in population density and crowded living conditions, these ‘unfavorable’ environments might be the selective pressure that drove the rewiring of both species,” the researchers wrote in their article, published today (May 14) in the journal Nature Communications.
It isn’t clear precisely when wolves were tamed and transformed into man’s best friend, and the date has been hotly debated. An ancient, doglike skull uncovered in the Siberian Mountains suggested that the first dogs were domesticated around 33,000 years ago from gray wolves. But genetic analysis suggested dogs in China were domesticated only about 16,000 years ago.
In any case, most researchers agree that by about 10,000 years ago, dogs were firmly ensconced in human society. [10 Breeds: What Your Dog Says About You]
Some studies show that the wild dogs of South China may have