Beside them ran wolflike creatures, more docile than their ancestors and remarkably willing to help their primate companions hunt down prey and drag it back to camp. These were the world’s first dogs. Their descendants flowed both west and east, populating Eurasia as well as accompanying the ancestors of Native Americans as they spread into the Americas.
That’s the scenario laid out in a new study combining DNA data from ancient dogs and humans. The analysis, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, aims to end years of debate about where and when dogs were domesticated. It may even explain how wary wolves were transformed into faithful companions in the first place.
“I love this study,” says Jennifer Raff, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and an expert on ancient people in the Americas.
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