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Dog genetic history remains a mystery to this day


A new study has shown how the task of tracing the modern dog’s DNA is an extremely complicated one.


Phillippe Diederich

The modern dog’s DNA remain a mystery even to this day, despite theories they came from wolves, says a new study.

A team of scientists set out to trace the genetic history of modern canines but found that there is little evidence linking them back to ancient species.

"Both the appearance and behaviour of modern breeds would be deeply strange to our ancestors who lived just a few hundred years ago," said lead author Greger Larson of the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, reported the Daily Mail.

"And so far, anyway, studying modern breeds hasn't yet allowed us to understand how, where and when dogs and humans first started this wonderful relationship."

According to the New York Times, most theories on dogs’ origins have them stemming from wolves in a number of places around the globe between 15,000 to 100,000 years ago.

The new study challenges this theory by looking at over 1300 dogs both modern and ancient and even 19 wolves.

Researchers used DNA samples and geographic locations of breeds both modern and "ancient" to test whether dog lineage could be traced.

The research suggests that so-called ancient breeds may not be as ancient as once suspected and that intense breeding has complicated the search for the origin of dogs.

"There's a central irony here which is that because we love them so much, we've completely obliterated their early history and made it more difficult to understand their origins," Larson told LiveScience.

The study was published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.