Dogs evolved in Europe


Dogs evolved dramatically in Europe.?Morphologically identifiable dogs arrived in Europe around 15,000 years ago. MtDNA studies of 10,000 – 15,000 year old wolf skeletons and 3,000 to 4,000 year old dog skeletons in Italy show that the two species shared common mtDNA. This means that the European wolf contributed at least in part to the development of dogs in Italy, confirming previous mtDNA studies that indicated four distinct wolf ancestors involved in the origin of dogs. The mtDNA recovered from the ancient Italian wolf skeletons is similar to that found in modern Eastern European wolves. That means that the wolves of the Carpathian Mountains today may still reflect some of the genetic variation of the European dog-founder population.

Recently, the indigenous breeds of Portugal have been studied and their mtDNA compared to representative dogs from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. While the Moors from North Africa introduced a wide variety of domesticated livestock into Europe through the Iberian peninsula, there’s no genetic evidence that they brought their dogs with them as no canine mtDNA from African dogs was found in any Iberian (or other European) dogs. I’ll discuss in detail how Europe became the cradle of the diversity of forms and functions of dogs in the next chapter.?

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