Caucasian Ovcharka

Champion Caucasian Ovtcharka
Quoted from "Research Undermines Dog Domestication Theory"
by Nicholas Wade
The New York Times - 3 August 2009

Ryan and Corin Boyko, two anthropologists at the University of California Davis .... collected 223 samples of village dog blood from Egypt, Uganda and Namibia. .... [T]heir samples, reported in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have called into question a finding on the origin of dog domestication from wolves. The origin is thought to be East Asia - based on a 2002 survey of both village dogs and breed dogs. But most of the village dogs in that survey came from East Asia, which could have tilted the outcome. The African village dogs turn out to have much the same amount of genetic diversity as those of East Asia. This is puzzling because the origin of a species is usually also the source of greatest genetic diversity.

The Boykos .... say the origin may not be East Asia. The issue is better addressed by looking just at village dogs, they think, and by excluding European breeds, which are mostly of recent origin. They are now collecting samples from village dogs throughout the world .... in hope of tracing not just the place or places where dogs were first domesticated, but also the travels that dogs then took around the world with their masters.

The lack of any sharp gradient of genetic diversity between East Asian and African village dogs could mean that once domesticated, dogs spread very quickly from their point of origin. Another explanation, Dr. Boyko said, is that they originated at some point halfway between the two regions, like in the Caucasus Mountains.

Robert Wayne, a biologist at the University of California Los Angeles, said the new report "leaves in disarray" the thesis that dogs evolved in East Asia. But they could not have evolved in sub-Saharan Africa, which has no wolves, and "so must have evolved somewhere else, maybe in the Middle East," Dr. Wayne said. .... A genome-scanning chip, similar to those developed for studying the human genome, has been developed for dogs. Dr. Wayne, working with Dr. Boyko and colleagues, has used the chip to scan wolf genomes. He said they were now working on a report that might resolve the current quandary as to where the first dogs originated.

Caucasian Mountain Dog