Genes show dogs are descendants of now-extinct wolf breed

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Image via NBC News.

The latest genetic study to trace the origins of dogs confirms the view that they were domesticated by hunter-gatherers at least 9,000 years ago — but the results raise almost as many questions as they answer.

Exactly what kind of wolf gave rise to “man’s best friend”? Did domestication take advantage of a rare genetic quirk, or did early humans merely take advantages of wolfish traits?

The study published on Thursday in the journal PLOS Genetics doesn’t resolve those questions. But one of its senior authors, University of Chicago geneticist John Novembre, says researchers are working on ways to get the answers.

“Ancient DNA studies are going to be very exciting for this field in the near future,” he told NBC News in an email.

Novembre said Thursday’s study complements earlier work that analyzed mitochondrial DNA from modern-day wolves as well as ancient wolf remains. It suggests that dogs descended from a wolf strain that has since gone extinct. The genetic tale is complicated, however, due to interbreeding between dogs and wolves in recent times.

Read the full, original article: Genes suggest dogs descended from a now-extinct breed of wolf

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