Dog domestication in Europe is older than we think

The subject of domestication of animals throughout history has been sensitive, and that of the wolf and the dog even more so! In fact, the questions of chronology or geography are many, and what has been established during a period can be questioned during a new discovery. But when did we start domesticating dogs? A new study about a site located in Spain, in the Basque Country, has developed new elements of the chronology of European dogs.

The study published in Journal of archaeological science in December 2022 explains the methodology for the analysis of a humerushumerus of the canid found in a cave in Spain. the dogsdogs is a speciesspecies who, follows her raisingraising, proved to be very close to people. The article also highlights the presence of dogs in funerary contexts in various Upper Palaeolithic cultures. And yet, this is a sensitive topic with many gray areas.

Differentiate between dog breeds

The great difficulty lies on the side of the geneticgenetic animals found. We are talking about wolves, dogs, but also animal lines. Currently, not all paleogeneticists are in complete agreement aboutevolution of speciesevolution of species only in the question of the dates of their domestication.

Some prehistoric sites have known what the study calls “proto-dogs” similar to wolfdogs. Wolfdogs whose bones have been found in many places in Europe. In some cases, there is an additional difficulty: there are not necessarily any bones at the site, such as the footprint of a canine on the ground in the Chauvet cave. A discovery that revived publications on the human/dog relationship a few years ago in the early days.

A bone found in a cave in Spain in 1985

The study bone was discovered in a cave, and more precisely in a classesclasses corresponds to the Lower Magdalenian period. This layer is not contaminated by other levels of work. In this layer, many elements confirming a local Magdalenian lithic industry were discovered as well as food remains. The bone found in 1985 was attributed to the wolf species at the time of its discovery. Thanks to morphological and then DNA analysis, this classification is finally closer to the dog in terms of species. To date, only three other dogs from the Upper Palaeolithic have been analyzed in Europe with a double standard.

The dog was part of the Magdalenian hunter-gatherer groups

The conclusion of this article is that the animal from the cave of Erralla, which dates from about 17,410 to 17,096 BC, is one of the oldest in the family of Canis lupus know. This dog shares mitochondrial haplogroup C with other Magdalenian dogs that have been studied in Europe. The researchers then hypothesized that wolf domestication may be older in Europe than the dates currently proposed.

What is certain is that for thousands of years, dogs have never let us down, either in life or in research!


Our domestic dogs have their origins in Europe

Article by Quentin Mauguit, published on November 20, 2013

A new twist in the evolutionary history of our dogs. According to new genetic analysis conducted withfossil DNAfossil DNAour four-legged friends all have a European ancestor that was domesticated by hunter-gatherers 32,100 to 18,800 years ago.

Everyone agrees on this topic: our dogs are descended from domesticated wolves. On the other hand, the debates are animated by the question to know where and when this event took place. For some, it is in Europe or Siberia. To prove this, paleontologists rely on fossils of canids that are more than 30,000 years old discovered in Belgium (Goyet cave) and Altai (Razboinichya cave).

In the opposite camp is geneticistsgeneticists relying on the results of their sacred orderorder. According to a study published in 2010, the domestication of canids began only 15,000 years ago, and it happened in the Middle East. When it was published, the study invalidated the European, Siberian or Chinese origin. Yes, there are many contenders for the title! However, one detail needs to be clarified: the DNA is only from dogs and gray wolvesgray wolves modern used to achieve this result.

This detail makes all the difference compared to the article that just appeared in the journal Science, where Olaf Thalmann of the University of Turku (Finland) is the lead author. His team collaborated with Robert Wayne from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA, USA) to follow themitochondrial DNAmitochondrial DNA of 18 Eurasian and American dogs and wolves that lived 36,000 to 1,000 years ago. The conclusion is without doubt: one of the sources mentioned above is correct.

Many attempts to domesticate canids have taken place

The genetic data collected was compared to that obtained from modern wild or domestic canids. Thanks to the reconstruction made, it turns out that all modern dogs on the planet have one ancestor … European. According to molecular dating, it should have been domesticated 32,100 to 18,800 years ago, therefore by hunters.

The results prove another point: Man has taken care of wolves on many occasions, with varying degrees of success. In fact, the oldest dogs found (in Belgium and Siberia) have little relation to the ancestors of our faithful modern pets. This suggests that they were the subject of a failed domestication attempt. In fact, this result is not new, but it has been proven again.

The study has been criticized for one detail: the researchers did not sequence theDNADNA mitochondrial from fossil remains discovered in China or the Middle East. According to the Nature News site, Olaf Thalmann wants to fill this gap, but he thinks that it will not change the conclusion he just presented to us.

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