The first of many animals that humans have domesticated, the dog is known as “man’s best friend.” It’s hard to say when a distinct population of wolves suddenly appeared among the dogs. It’s possible to tell which ancient skeletons are dogs by looking at their teeth; however, this isn’t always the case. Genomes of present and ancient canines can be used to gain a sense of what happened at the time. However, the results of this study are very dependent on your assumptions about the appearance of the wolf populations from which dogs descended.
Researchers now have a far better idea of how wolves have evolved over the previous 100,000 years. According to this narrative, Siberia was the heart of an entire Arctic population that expanded across continents and was replenished periodically from a core in Siberia. Many canine breeds appear to have sprung from an East Asian wolf population. Others, on the other hand, appear to have had major input from a population in the Middle East, although it is not clear whether that population consisted of wolves or dogs.
In the north, you’ll find wolves
As part of this new study, researchers analysed 66 wolf fossils that span nearly 100,000 years of history, including the last Ice Age. The capacity to sequence ancient DNA proved critical. Skeletons of wolves found in the northern hemisphere tend to be employed in this study (probably in part because DNA survives better in cooler climes). However, they can be found all over the world, from Europe to Asia to North America. The researchers also used five previously sequenced ancient wolf genomes, as well as some modern wolf genomes.
Regional populations tend to be more segregated from their more distant relatives, which is to be expected. The most closely linked genes tend to cluster together if you plot them on a map. Instead, the old wolf genomes were gathered together over time, as opposed to the other way around. A particular wolf was likely to be linked to other wolves that lived at the same time, regardless of where those wolves were located on the planet at the time
After the previous glacial period came to an end, current wolf populations began to grow in the area. These populations, on the other hand, are more closely related to each other than the pre-ice age wolves.
In spite of the vast distances between them, how did these animals maintain genetic continuity? Evidently, as a result of the ongoing population growth in Siberia. Approximately 100,000 years ago, there was an unique European wolf population. However, as immigrants from Siberia continued to arrive, the proportion of indigenous Europeans declined to somewhere between 10% and 40%, depending on the species. In contrast, in North America, all current-day wolves are mostly descended from Siberia, with the rest deriving from hybridization with coyotes.
Global populations have the effect of spreading beneficial mutations more quickly. In total, the scientists discovered 24 regions of the genome that appear to contain useful adaptations, and all of these useful segments of DNA present in all of the wolf populations analysed..
I’ve taken the dogs for a walk.
It’s time to get down to business. They also bear a striking resemblance to the Siberian wolves that roamed the Arctic during the last ice age. A strong bond with canines wasn’t found in any of the wolves older than that, however. To put it another way, we don’t have any DNA evidence indicating canines are descended from a particular wolf species;