Beijing, April 27 (IANS) Dogs were first tamed in China, Chinese scientists claim, disputing research that domesticated dogs first evolved 15,000 years ago in Central Asia.
A research team led by Zhang Yaping from Kunming Institute of Zoology in Yunnan province has questioned previous research, the China Daily reported on Wednesday.
The team’s conclusion was published as a letter by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a US-based research journal, and previously by Cell Research, a publication of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Wang Guodong, an associate professor from the academy’s Zoology Institute, said: “For the first time, our study unravels an extraordinary journey that the domestic dog has travelled on Earth.”
The Chinese research disagrees with conclusions reached in October by a team of scientists led by Adam Boyko of Cornell University in the US.
The Cornell research, which analysed more than 185,800 genetic markers for 4,600 purebred dogs from 165 breeds, along with more than 540 village dogs from 38 countries, said the earliest dogs appeared in Central Asia 15,000 years ago.
Wang said: “First, the definition of Central Asia in the previous research is wrong, because they assigned Mongolia and Nepal to Central Asia. Second, despite its large scale, the research did not include data on dog populations from southern China, which has always been believed to be an important place of origin for domesticated dogs.”
The team also sequenced 12 grey wolves – 27 primitive dogs from Asia and Africa and 19 diverse breeds from across the world.
The scientists said Chinese dogs have significantly more genetic diversity than other populations, and are genetically the closest to grey wolves, indicating that dogs were domesticated in southern East Asia about 33,000 years ago.