Researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, found further proof that the wolf ancestors of today’s domesticated dogs can be traced to southern East Asia – findings that run counter to theories placing the cradle of the canine line in the Middle East.
Dr. Peter Savolainen, KTH researcher in evolutionary genetics, says a new study confirms that an Asian region south of the Yangtze River was the principal and probably sole region where wolves were domesticated by humans.
Data on genetics, morphology and behaviour show clearly that dogs are descended from wolves, but there’s never been scientific consensus on where in the world the domestication process began. “Our analysis of Y-chromosomal DNA now confirms that wolves were first domesticated in Asia south of Yangtze River – we call it the ASY region – in southern China or Southeast Asia”, Savolainen says.
Approximately half of the gene pool was universally shared everywhere in the world, while only the ASY region had the entire range of genetic diversity. “This shows that gene pools in all other regions of the world most probably originate from the ASY region”, Savolainen says.
“Our results confirm that Asia south of the Yangtze River was the most important – and probably the only – region for wolf domestication, and that a large number of wolves were domesticated”, says Savolainen.