Dogs And Humans Evolved More Closely Than You Might Think

Your dog may be closer to you than you thought as a new study shows that dogs and humans evolved at a similar rate, once dogs became domesticated.

Dogs apparently separated from gray wolves 32 thousand years ago. But its possible that it was even before then that they become man’s best friend.

It is also possible that the linked evolution of the two species has to do with the similar surroundings that they lived in.

The research was done by scientists at the University of Chicago and other international locations, finding that genes in both humans and canines that had to do with diet, digestion, disease, and even some neurological processes seemingly evolved simultaneously throughout history.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications May 14.

"As domestication is often associated with large increases in population density and crowded living conditions, these 'unfavorable' environments might be the selective pressure that drove the rewiring of both species,” the article said.

The different species included in the study of the genomes were gray wolves from China and Russia, Chinese street dogs, and some more familiar ones such as a German shepherd, a Belgian malinois, and a Tibetan mastiff.

The study found that the Chinese street dogs may bridge the gap between gray wolves and pure breads.

Researchers debate over when dogs were actually domesticated. The date is estimated to be around 33 thousand years ago to 16 thousand years ago. The former date suggests that dogs barely evolved from gray wolves were alongside humans. Either way, by 10 thousand years ago dogs were here to stay (or sit).

But the study was hardly conclusive outside of China.

“Thirty-two thousand years is a bit old,” Evolutionary Biologist at the University of California Bob Wayne said.

He went on to say that testing genomes from dogs outside of China and Russia would help put a date and location on canine domestication.

Wayne also wonders if the relationship between human and dog genomes is unique, citing that horses and goats may have a similar one.

But for now, the bond between man and dog seems more noteworthy than ever before.

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