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Dogs could have come from different groups of ancestors: Researchers

domestic dog skull 33,000 ya/Greg Hodgins

From “Ancient Domesticated Dog Skull Found in Siberian Cave: 33,000 Years Old,” (ScienceDaily, Jan. 23, 2012), we learn,

ScienceDaily (Jan. 23, 2012) — A 33,000-year-old dog skull unearthed in a Siberian mountain cave presents some of the oldest known evidence of dog domestication and, together with an equally ancient find in a cave in Belgium, indicates that modern dogs may be descended from multiple ancestors.

… some of the oldest known evidence of dog domestication and, together with equally ancient dog remains from a cave in Belgium, indicates that domestication of dogs may have occurred repeatedly in different geographic locations rather than with a single domestication event.

In other words, man’s best friends may have originated from more than one ancient ancestor, contrary to what some DNA evidence previously has indicated.

The authors also note,

“The interesting thing is that typically we think of domestication as being cows, sheep and goats, things that produce food through meat or secondary agricultural products such as milk, cheese and wool and things like that,” said Hodgins.

“Those are different relationships than humans may have with dogs. The dogs are not necessarily providing products or meat. They are probably providing protection, companionship and perhaps helping on the hunt. And it’s really interesting that this appears to have happened first out of all human relationships with animals.”

Well, it seems sensible, really, doesn’t it? A human band of hunters would not hunt differently from canids except for the fact that humans use projectiles and canids have an acute sense of smell.

Psychologically, canids “get” pack discipline, essential to a hunt. They need only learn to accept a human hunt chief imposing the discipline. A partnership would leverage the strengths of both human and animal.

Paper free here.

A 33,000-Year-Old Incipient Dog from the Altai Mountains of Siberia: Evidence of the Earliest Domestication Disrupted by the Last Glacial Maximum

Nikolai D. Ovodov1, Susan J. Crockford2, Yaroslav V. Kuzmin3*, Thomas F. G. Higham4, Gregory W. L. Hodgins5, Johannes van der Plicht6,7

from Abstract: We describe the well-preserved remains of a dog-like canid from the Razboinichya Cave (Altai Mountains of southern Siberia). Because of the extraordinary preservation of the material, including skull, mandibles (both sides) and teeth, it was possible to conduct a complete morphological description and comparison with representative examples of pre-LGM wild wolves, modern wolves, prehistoric domesticated dogs, and early dog-like canids, using morphological criteria to distinguish between wolves and dogs. It was found that the Razboinichya Cave individual is most similar to fully domesticated dogs from Greenland (about 1000 years old), and unlike ancient and modern wolves, and putative dogs from Eliseevichi I site in central Russia. Direct AMS radiocarbon dating of the skull and mandible of the Razboinichya canid conducted in three independent laboratories resulted in highly compatible ages, with average value of ca. 33,000 cal BP.

Co nclusions/Significance: The Razboinichya Cave specimen appears to be an incipient dog that did not give rise to late Glacial – early Holocene lineages and probably represents wolf domestication disrupted by the climatic and cultural changes associated with the LGM. The two earliest incipient dogs from Western Europe (Goyet, Belguim) and Siberia (Razboinichya), separated by thousands of kilometers, show that dog domestication was multiregional, and thus had no single place of origin (as some DNA data have suggested) and subsequent spread.

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30 Responses to Dogs could have come from different groups of ancestors: Researchers

  1. Slightly OT – It’s evident that domestication is genetic, not just behavioral. Wild animals raised in a domestic setting retain some of that “wildness.” Even half-wolf dog breeds are oddly conflicted between domestication and fear of man.

    So isn’t it odd to find large, colorful birds in the wild which seem genetically predisposed to human contact and domestication, and coincidentally possess the rare ability to mimic human speech?

    I’m not condoning the often inhumane methods of their capture. But in one generation they can go from the wild to the living room where they socially interact with humans, no breeding required. Even a wild parrot can be tamed.

    I realize that this is just one more “how does darwinism explain that” question. But it’s a good one. Why would darwinian processes produce a creature that is predisposed to domestication, socially interactive with humans, mimics human speech, and is even distinctly pleasant to look at, all in the absence of humans?

    That’s the less-than-scientific evidence that sits in plain view challenging us to recognize or ignore it as we wish.

  2. And why would bananas be so perfectly shaped for human consumption?

  3. I don’t know about you, but I have to bite pieces off. I’m not sure if I want to see how you eat one.

  4. I hate bananas. I love my doggies.

  5. OT: Joe, kf, gpuccio, and others; Here is a detailed refutation, by Casey Luskin, to TalkOrigins severely misleading site on the claimed evidence for observed macro-evolutionary events (speciation);

    Specious Speciation: The Myth of Observed Large-Scale Evolutionary Change – Casey Luskin – January 2012
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....55281.html

  6. Scott,

    I realize that this is just one more “how does darwinism explain that” question. But it’s a good one. Why would darwinian processes produce a creature that is predisposed to domestication, socially interactive with humans, mimics human speech, and is even distinctly pleasant to look at, all in the absence of humans?

    A similar question: why are the animals of the Galapagos so tame? There’s an evolutionary explanation for that: lack of predation. Mainland animals that colonized predator-free islands would experience selection pressure to lose their skittishness. It’s a waste of energy to run away all the time when no one is really after you.

    Meanwhile, how does ID explain it? Did the designer create special tame versions of the animals so that we could enjoy them later when visiting the Galapagos?

  7. I don’t think ID does explain it. I think it was clear that it’s circumstantial, not scientific.

    As I see it, one aim of science is to distinguish genuine correlation and causes from anecdotes, gut feelings, and circumstantial evidence which could be misinterpreted.

    So I certainly do not feel that we should observe friendly birds that talk and base our understanding of biology on it.

    But is it reasonable that we should ignore such things and not take them into account? Science is a product of reason, not its definition or its replacement. If we map the genome of an African Grey but deliberately close our eyes to its unique characteristics and what they might indicate, then science is no longer enlightening us.

    There are plenty of animals that don’t fear humans, for various reasons. Animals living in the wild learn to be fed by humans – dangerous animals, not just ducks and squirrels.

    This is not the same as being genetically disposed to social interaction with another species. Seagulls want you food. They have no use for you when you’re not feeding them. And then they talk, on top of it? You can absolutely choose to view it as a coincidence, and I can’t argue much. Like I said, it’s not science.

  8. Thanks bornagian77-

    IMO Casey should have started out his response saying that neither Intelligent Design nor Creationism argue against speciation, even with its ambiguous definitions and tear down the strawman that ID is anti-evolution.

    Seeing that is “their” whole argument it needs to be addressed first and emphatically.

    Then he should have said “But let’s take a look at their examples to see what they have”, and written his paper.

    Just sayin’….

  9. champignon:

    A similar question: why are the animals of the Galapagos so tame? There’s an evolutionary explanation for that: lack of predation. Mainland animals that colonized predator-free islands would experience selection pressure to lose their skittishness. It’s a waste of energy to run away all the time when no one is really after you.

    How does evolution explain the lack of on the island? Why didn’t one of the “tame” populations “evolve” into predators to take advantage of all the food walking around?

    Meanwhile, how does ID explain it? Did the designer create special tame versions of the animals so that we could enjoy them later when visiting the Galapagos?

    Lack of predation- ya see ID is not anti-evolution.

  10. There are two kinds “tame” being conflated. Lack of fear of predators is one kind, but that does not apply to dogs. It does apply to parrots, however. As for mimicry, that is found in outer birds. I’ve heard a mynah bird voice clear English words.

    Dogs are tame because they have been selected for juvenile traits lingering into adulthood. I have no idea whether mutations are required or whether it’s just recombination.

    This has rather convincingly been demonstrated by breeding tame foxes in about 50 years. That makes it likely that dogs could have been selected from multiple wolf populations at various times. It seems like a rather easy bit of selective breeding.

  11. Joe,

    The oldest island is less than 5 million years old, and many of them are less than a million years old.

  12. And? Did you have a point? Evolution would occur faster in a design scenario-> the deck is stacked.

  13. How long does it take to go from potential prey to predator?

  14. 14

    Lack of fear of predators is one kind, but that does not apply to dogs. It does apply to parrots, however.

    You apparently typed that without doing even the most cursory 10-second research to determine whether parrots are afraid of predators. They are. If I only knew that you did this for some weird sort of amusement, you’d be surprised. I might even get the joke.

    I have no idea whether mutations are required or whether it’s just recombination.

    There’s no need to specify that. It’s given.

    This has rather convincingly been demonstrated by breeding tame foxes in about 50 years.

    Parrots aren’t bred to be tame. A wild parrot may need to adjust, but its predisposition to live among people and socially interact with them is genetic. How odd for a bird that lives in the jungle. It has two things most wild animals lack – natural tameness and the ability to mimic the human voice. (So what if another bird does it?)

    Shrug it off if you will. Like I said, it’s not science. But filtering everything you see through science is a limitation.

  15. I don’t know why parrots are tamable. I do know that newborn ducks imprint, and I suspect parrots raised in captivity are tamer than adults captured in the wild.

    This is true of dogs and cats also. Those handled by humans from infancy are tamer than feral adults. I’ve had both kinds as pets. I’ve found it takes about three years to tame a cat that was not handled by humans in the first few weeks of life.

    But I’m not going to brush off parrots as fully understood. I’ve see an African Gray that appeared to be attached to its owner to the same degree as a dog, and more intelligent than most dogs.

  16. IMO Casey should have started out his response saying that neither Intelligent Design nor Creationism argue against speciation, even with its ambiguous definitions and tear down the strawman that ID is anti-evolution.

    Seeing that is “their” whole argument [...]

    It is hardly ‘our’ whole argument against ID, but it is very hard to escape the conclusion that the majority of ID proponents are anti-evolution, whatever “ID” may say on the matter. Luskin himself spends endless hours arguing cluelessly against anything from molecular evidence for common descent (even on quite low taxonomic scales) to speciation mechanisms to fossil tracks, and it is not clear how his arguments allow any room for ‘permissible’ operation of evolutionary process or ‘legitimate’ descent inference, other than to the extent that he decides off the top of his head is allowable.

    Like you, he appears to be some kind of semi-professional evolution-denier. If ID were not anti-evolution, it ought to be possible to present it in conjunction with known mechanisms, and not as all-that-remains after ‘natural’ mechanisms have been argued away. Because either the natural mechanisms happen, or they do not. Either common descent can be deduced from common molecular markers, or it cannot, at any scale. There is no inherent limitation on the applicability of these methods, so it is up to ID to identify the discontinuities. This seems to be beyond many commentators, who are deeply enmeshed in the negative attempt to dismiss ‘darwinism’ in toto, which is nothing new.

  17. Chas D:

    It is hardly ‘our’ whole argument against ID, but it is very hard to escape the conclusion that the majority of ID proponents are anti-evolution, whatever “ID” may say on the matter.

    And just how are YOU defining “evolution”?

    Either common descent can be deduced from common molecular markers, or it cannot, at any scale.

    That is juts a nonsensical meaningless claim.

  18. Joe,

    So how does ID explain the lack of predation on the island?

  19. Hamming distance and want of suitable start points sounds about right. Just for starters. There is no lack of predators in the waters, though . . .

  20. BTW: what is a species, in light of say N A elk and red deer?

  21. KF,

    Why should “Hamming distance and want of suitable start points” be a barrier to ID?

  22. And just how are YOU defining “evolution”?

    Change in allele frequency. More explicitly, changes in gene sequence (mutation) and their subsequent fate in the population under the influence of drift and selection. Absent balanced polymorphism, there are only two ultimate fates: elimination or fixation. Both are effectively irreversible, hence indefinite genetic change. Your sticking point appears to be phenotype. You accept genetic change, but (for no reason I can fathom, other than an ‘essentialist’ view of species or marginally higher taxa) have decided it cannot produce ‘different’ phenotypes without an occasional prod.

    Chas: Either common descent can be deduced from common molecular markers, or it cannot, at any scale.

    Joe: That is juts a nonsensical meaningless claim.

    So looking at molecular markers is a legitimate inference for common descent between members of a family, race or species, but it is NOT a legitimate inference for exactly the same kinds of marker in looking between two species (or higher taxonomic levels?). Exactly the same tests, using exactly the same analytical techniques (including objective assessments of statistical ‘likelihood’). Genetic similarity means common descent in species, common design outside. Or convergence, if you’re feeling particularly bold. For everything – every common bit of fluff, misspelling and insertion. That is not sustainable, though I’ve seen you try and sustain it often enough.

  23. Change in allele frequency. More explicitly, changes in gene sequence (mutation) and their subsequent fate in the population under the influence of drift and selection.

    Baraminology is OK with that.

    Absent balanced polymorphism, there are only two ultimate fates: elimination or fixation.

    Really? How can you test that?

    You accept genetic change, but (for no reason I can fathom, other than an ‘essentialist’ view of species or marginally higher taxa) have decided it cannot produce ‘different’ phenotypes without an occasional prod.

    There are geneticists and developmental biologists who share my concern.

    So looking at molecular markers is a legitimate inference for common descent between members of a family, race or species, but it is NOT a legitimate inference for exactly the same kinds of marker in looking between two species (or higher taxonomic levels?).

    That’s true.

    Exactly the same tests, using exactly the same analytical techniques (including objective assessments of statistical ‘likelihood’).

    That is false as they are not the same tests. Your test requires the untestable “fixation of non-functional DNA”, whereas within a family doesn’t require that.

    Not only that, as I have said my kids don’t have to have any of my father’s DNA so it doesn’t always work.

    What you need is something to test your claim that genetic change can lead to all the transformations required.

  24. So how does ID explain the lack of predation on the island?

    Peace treaty….

  25. Who said this, and when?

    when we reflect on the extreme antiquity of the different breeds; and especially when we reflect on the close similarity, both in external structure and habits, between the domestic dogs of various countries and the wild species still inhabiting these same countries, the balance of evidence is strongly in favour of the multiple origin of our dogs.

  26. Baraminology is OK with that.

    Yeah but baraminology’s baloney, isn’t it? In any case, however a lineage originated, evolutionary theory predicts a ‘henceforward’ process of indefinite change due to mutation-fixation.

    Chas: Absent balanced polymorphism, there are only two ultimate fates: elimination or fixation.

    Joe: Really? How can you test that?

    This is a result of population genetics – the mathematical theory of evolution. Variation diminishes with every generation. This is an inevitable result of the fact that organisms produce different numbers of offspring. Some parents’ genes are over-represented in the next generation, some under. This forms the start for the next round, and distortions are further distorted. Although you may intuitively think that things will just wibble along indefinitely, it is actually a guarantee that the result will be complete loss of all but one ancestor at each locus. It takes an average 4Ne generations for a neutral site. If one allele is fixed, all others are by definition lost. Bearing in mind that Ne is effective population, which is a lot smaller than census population. This is the background rate; positive selection speeds this up.

    There are geneticists and developmental biologists who share my concern.

    Any names?

    Chas: Exactly the same tests, using exactly the same analytical techniques (including objective assessments of statistical ‘likelihood’).

    Joe: That is false as they are not the same tests. Your test requires the untestable “fixation of non-functional DNA”, whereas within a family doesn’t require that.

    They are the same tests. Species-level fixation is an inevitable result for all DNA, functional and non-functional (barring further mutations). This falls out of the maths. You can computer-model it too. There is no reason to suppose that ‘real’ genes don’t behave in this way. And indeed one can look at sites that are common to all individuals, and knock them out. The knockout individuals are perfectly healthy, so they appear nonfunctional, and they are universal. So fixed nonfunctional DNA exists. Any descendant species will have these nonfunctional markers, for so long as they remain detectable.

    Not only that, as I have said my kids don’t have to have any of my father’s DNA so it doesn’t always work.

    In the absence of recombination, the chance for each chromosome is 1/2. But the chance that none will get through is 1/(2^23), or about 1 in 8.4 million. Recombination increases the number of units into which his genome is sliced, increasing the number of shots still further. If there is an average one crossover per chromosome, the chance that all his DNA is lost is 1/(2^46) – negligible.

    You are right, in fact, but it takes a lot more generations for it to happen. And in fact your point is key to the fixation principle I outlined. It is because genetic contribution is lost each generation – by death, as well as gamete manufacture – that fixation occurs. Each time a bit of an individual’s descendant DNA is scrubbed from the population, its place is taken by an extra copy of someone else’s. Imagine a population just consisting of your kid’s 4 grandparents, with one chromosome pair each. If they have 4 kids, and those 4 kids have 4 kids (incestuously, for the illustration), then there is an excellent chance that at least one of the 4 grandparents’ DNA has been lost from the population. This means that the rest have gained. A couple more generations, and only one grandparent’s DNA will remain, in every individual. This is fixation.

    Of course, a more realistic population has a few tens of thousands of individuals in it, and we don’t call it incest when two of them mate. But the principle is exactly the same. Another way of looking at fixation is via increase in the inbreeding coefficient – in order to breed at all, you must be related, and the more variation diminishes, the more like an inbred line the population becomes. This tendency is opposed by mutation.

  27. Yeah but baraminology’s baloney, isn’t it?

    It is supported by the evidence, as opposed to your position.

    In any case, however a lineage originated, evolutionary theory predicts a ‘henceforward’ process of indefinite change due to mutation-fixation.

    Yet we do not observe the “fixation” part Chas. So that would be a problem.

    In large sexually reproducing populations it does not happen unless there is some sort of super-strong selection pressure that wipes out all but one specific type of allele.

    This is a result of population genetics – the mathematical theory of evolution.

    A mathematical theory that has never been tested in any wild populations. There have been attempts with fruit flies (in labs) in no new alleles became fixed after over 600 generations.

    I would say the only ways to get an allele fixed is by design or bottle-neck

    And btw it should be all geneticists and developmental biologists share my concerns as not one of them has any clue as to how to get beyond circumstantial evidence which relies on starting with the conclusion.

    Again I refer you to “Why is a Fly Not a Horse?”…

  28. Chas: Yeah but baraminology’s baloney, isn’t it?

    Joe: It is supported by the evidence, as opposed to your position.

    You do make me laugh. What evidence is it supported by? The fact that we have giraffes and hippos and stuff? Must be special creation, ‘cos they’re nuthin’ like each other!

    Chas: In any case, however a lineage originated, evolutionary theory predicts a ‘henceforward’ process of indefinite change due to mutation-fixation.

    Joe: Yet we do not observe the “fixation” part Chas. So that would be a problem.

    In large sexually reproducing populations it does not happen unless there is some sort of super-strong selection pressure that wipes out all but one specific type of allele.

    How do you know that? If we do not observe the ‘fixation’ part… You are just dropping back into your lazy ‘deny-everything’ mode.

    It does not require ‘super-strong selection’ to wipe out alleles. You’re just guessing. It requires only a generational population sampling process, which is what all breeding ultimately results in, in a finite world. So if you do not accept that sampling alone can fix alleles, you really are ‘anti-evolution’. Or, the evolution you are ‘pro’ is not evolution by any standard currently being taught at University level (which is kind of entry-level for a meaningful critique). And you seem to be denying the relevance of Markov processes and probability theory, without really saying why (“you’ve never tested probability theory in the wild”). You really should get yourself up to speed.

    Chas: This is a result of population genetics – the mathematical theory of evolution.

    Joe: A mathematical theory that has never been tested in any wild populations. There have been attempts with fruit flies (in labs) in no new alleles became fixed after over 600 generations.

    Cobblers. The mathematical theory is routinely used in all manner of real-world situations, including (but not restricted to) conservation, disease and pest control, and taxonomy. As for testing it … the very nature of wild populations makes it hard to follow a fixation process from inception to completion. You have no idea which allele to follow, and lack a million years to carry it out. But you need to explain, clearly, why the mathematical theory is not applicable to wild populations. Biologists think it is. Explain to them why they are wrong.

    Don’t tell me, you got that fruit fly stuff from Casey Luskin (he’s a lawyer, you know). Managed to dig anything original up lately?

    I would say the only ways to get an allele fixed is by design or bottle-neck

    “I would say?” You should get some papers published. “I Reckon…” by Joe. Folksy whimsy from the cutting edge. You are wrong.

    And btw it should be all geneticists and developmental biologists share my concerns as not one of them has any clue as to how to get beyond circumstantial evidence which relies on starting with the conclusion.

    Well, I would like to see the arguments of one of your so-far mythical geneticists and developmental biologists that agree with you. Don’t tell me they must remain under deep cover to retain tenure?

    It is a fact that most people specialising in biology don’t generally see things the same way as you (yes, I know! Incredible, ain’t it?). You get the physical chemists, and the astrophysicists, and the mathematicians and such like. They are no better informed about biology than the average layman. But where are the biologists? Axe and Gauger, Behe, Wells (if he’d wanted to destroy Darwinism, he should have studied evolutionary biology).

    Again I refer you to “Why is a Fly Not a Horse?”…

    I would be unlikely to glean anything new from it. (In response to the title’s rhetorical question, though: why are you not a girl? Why do you have your dad’s nose when you could have had your mum’s? Genetics, and chance. Evolution is genetics multiplied up over many generations, with a correspondingly huge side-order of chance. Neither flies nor horses are demanded by the process.)

  29. The Designer would need to do a course on them before He used them?

    Is there a testable prediction for ID? Like Archangelic Time. :-)

  30. Chas:

    What evidence is it supported by?

    Every experiment ever conducted, including Lenski’s.

    How do you know that? If we do not observe the ‘fixation’ part… You are just dropping back into your lazy ‘deny-everything’ mode.

    Whatever- it is YOU that cannot produce any evidence to support YOUR claims.

    It does not require ‘super-strong selection’ to wipe out alleles. You’re just guessing. It requires only a generational population sampling process, which is what all breeding ultimately results in, in a finite world.

    I am still waiting on the evidence that supports your claim.

    So if you do not accept that sampling alone can fix alleles, you really are ‘anti-evolution’.

    You accept it only for religious reasons because you don’t have any EVIDENCE for it.

    And nope I got the fruit fly thing straight from peer-review:

    Genome-wide analysis of a long-term evolution experiment with Drosophila:

    We conclude that, at least for life history characters such as development time, unconditionally advantageous alleles rarely arise, are associated with small net fitness gains or cannot fix because selection coefficients change over time.

    Realty is a bitch.


    I would say the only ways to get an allele fixed is by design or bottle-neck

    “I would say?” You should get some papers published. “I Reckon…” by Joe. Folksy whimsy from the cutting edge. You are wrong.

    Call me wrong all you want but people have noticed taht you don’t have any evidence to support that claim. You are a loser.

    And BTW a geneticist wrote that book and genetics do not help you. True gentics is SOMETIMES the difference between male and female and DNA does affect noses. Hopwever genetics does NOT determine what will develop. Influence development, sure. Determine it- no.

    And BTW Wells is a developmental biologist…

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