Dogs have been around for a long time, and have been part of modern human existence. Much of recent history has shown that dogs have been with man. It is said that dogs are man's best friend, and now Science has a new theory for this.
How dogs stayed with man has been the speculated. A new study suggests that farming has much to do with why dogs have stayed with man for so long. The study has shown that dogs in the early days adapted much when they had extra copies of starch-digesting genes.
This likely happened 7,000 years ago, which would be fairly recently in man's history. Farming has changed the way man eats, and this has affected dogs as well. This has been the assessment of Peter Savolainen, who is a geneticist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. As man began to eat starch, he began to adapt to this new source of food. The dog did the same. Savolainen is not involved in the study.
Dogs have 30 copies of the gene called Amy2B. This is the gene that helps dogs digest starch. Erik Axelsson from Uppsala University in Sweden discovered this. Dogs differ in that respect from wolves, as wolves only have two of those genes, according to Science Mag.
Morgane Ollivier, a paleontologist from the Ecole Normale Supeieure de Lyon teamed up with Axelsson to find out more how dogs have evolved to become closer to humans. By extracting DNA from 13 specimens of ancient dogs and humans, Ollivier has found out that dogs then had more than eight copies of Amy 2B. The samples were from dogs that came before any of the modern dog breeds now present.
With the DNA samples, Ollivier theorized that the dogs most likely ate leftovers from humans. This showed the close relationship between dogs and humans even then. The dogs may have even acted as guard dogs over the farms.
This has been the conclusion reached as well by Kerstin Lindblad-Toh from Uppsala University. She has also worked with Axelsson in researching how dogs came to be domesticated, as The Scientist reports. In her research, she has found evidence that the digestion of starch by dogs have led to its close relationship with humans over the years.
What scientists want to find out now is how the dogs were particularly domesticated. The ability to digest starch in of itself would not make a dog docile, noted Rodney Honeycutt, an evolutionary geneticist at Pepperdine University. Lindblad-Toh speculated that early dogs probably rummaged through garbage left by humans in search of leftovers. This might have made them move closer to humans over time.
While it is not entirely clear how dogs have become close to humans, what is clear is that dogs are man's best friend. Now Science may have a new theory for this, as dogs remain loyal to humans. A report also shows that genetics may have played a role in the dog's relationship with man.