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DNA trail leads to new spot for dog domestication

Study points to Central Asia as place where canines and people became pals

3:02pm, October 19, 2015
dog with ball snuggles with human

FETCH  Canine genetics show that dogs and humans might have first become pals in Central Asia. 

Dogs first snuggled up with humans in Central Asia, a new study suggests.

The survey of canine genetic diversity contradicts previous findings about where dogs became domesticated, the researchers report October 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We have a large dataset,” says study coauthor Laura Shannon, an evolutionary geneticist at Cornell University who collaborated with an international team on the project. “We’ve gotten the chance to sample dogs from all over the world.”

Researchers compared 185,805 genetic markers from dogs, including purebreds, from 38 countries.  The team found that Central Asia harbored the largest amount of diversity, pinning the original locale of domestication near present-day Nepal and Mongolia.

“As you move out from Central Asia we see a decrease in diversity,” Shannon says.

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