A recent study which analyzed the DNA of the ancient wolf has illuminated them on the murky early history of the animal called as man’s best friend, which also suggests that dogs split from the wolf family as many as 27,000 to 40,000 years back, as opposed to the previous assumption of 11,000 to 16,000 years ago.
“Dogs may have been domesticated much earlier than is generally believed,” Love Dalen, a researcher at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm and coauthor of a study describing the discovery in the journal Current Biology, said in a statement.
This was confirmed after sequencing the DNA of a male wolf that lived on Siberia’s Taimyr Peninsula, by Dalen, first author Pontus Skoglund of the Harvard Medical School and their colleagues.
A small piece of rib bone collected during an expedition in the region was the source of the genetic material. The team was unsure in the beginning if the sample came from a modern or ancient wolf, radiocarbon dating revealed later that the beast, which they referred to an Taimyr 1, lived about 35,000 years back.
“This wolf lived just a few thousand years after Neanderthals disappeared from Europe and modern humans started populating Europe and Asia,” Skoglund said.
The team surmised that there must have been a three-way split among the Taimyr, dog and wolf lineages after examining the animal’s mitochondrial and nuclear DNA and comparing them to the genomes of modern wolves and dogs.
It was also discovered that Greenland sled dogs and Siberian huskies shared a relatively large number of genes with Taimyr 1, compared to other breeds. The Chinese shar pei and Finnish spitz also shared Taimyr DNA to a lesser extent.
“DNA can provide direct evidence that a Siberian husky you see walking down the street shares ancestry with a wolf that roamed northern Siberia 35,000 years ago,” Skoglund said.