New genetic analyses supports the argument that the domestication of man’s best friend coincided with the advent of argiculture and human settlements. Researchers Erik Axelsson (Uppsala University, Sweden) and colleagues present evidence suggesting that wolves became domesticated as they increasingly scavenged in the human settlements. The researchers sequenced DNA from 12 wolves and 60 dogs to find areas that evolved under selection pressure. What they found were differences in genes relaed to the development of the central nervous system allowing modern dogs to communicate with humans more effectively. Additionally, they discovered mutations in genes important to starch metabolism helping modern dogs rely more heavily on a starchy diet as opposed to a more wolf-friendly carnivorous diet.
Well that certainly explains my dog’s passion for pasta.
Axelsson E, Ratnakumar A, Arendt M, Maqbool K, Webster MT, Perloski M, Liberg O, Arnemo JM, Hedhammar A, Lindblad-Toh K. The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature (2013). doi:10.1038/nature11837