Monday, March 22, 2010

Some Links

Are Middle Eastern wolves the ancestors of domestic dogs? I would have to see a lot more, and wonder what Saivolainen, who suggests an eastern China origin, would say. More and more domestication sites seem to move east as we look there.And the most primitive dogs remaining (dingos, singing dogs) are SE Asian. They may well be related to an extinct local "wolf" rather different than C. lupus lupus. And the dates posited are earlier. Also the new sites group "all sighthounds together"--?? Physiologically, behaviorally, and genetically "oriental sighthounds"-- tazi, Afghan-- align with such breeds as laika and original husky, despite their appearance. They are as far from greyhounds as they are from poodles!

HT Sir Terence Clark (who likes it) and Walter Hingley.

After wolves ate an incautious jogger in Alaska Chas has some cautionary if not inflammatory words about their entry into Colorado. Will suburban joggers demand their control? Remember what happened with that cougar in Boulder...

Famine in Mongolia. Many people especially in the west are losing more than half their herds. (I wonder why my Kazakh friends in far- western Olgii seem less affected?) I'd like the article better if the author didn't imply they were better off under communism-- I don't know ONE Mongol or Kazakh who thinks so. Elsewhere he mentions Chna's greed for Mongolian resources. Hell, they could have both Stalinism AND rapacious capitalism if they just rolled over...

HT Walter again.

Good slide show on the disaster here. HT Annie Hocker.

More tartan- clad vaguely Celtic mummies in Xinjiang. As usual both the Hans and the Uighurs are claiming them as ancestors, though as they seem of mixed western- Asian genes I'd say the Uighurs are closer. HT Peculiar.

Who by the way has a new landscape photography blog under his own name, quite spectacular if I say so myself. Congratulations Jackson!

Coming soon: more big pistols, more & worse...

UPDATE on dog origins, from Peter Saivolainen to Vladimir Beregovoy:

Peter wrote:
"Without going in to technical details, they don't have a single dog sample from southern East Asia, which according to mtDNA seems to be the region of origin. So, performing a study of dog origins without having a single sample from southern East Asia is impossible. It would be like doing a study of the origins of humans (which we know came from Africa) without analysing a single African sample..."


Retrieverman said...

Savolainen's technique was only a very flawed methodology that looked at the diversity of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes. This is flawed because East Asians didn't go into dog eugenics in the mid-nineteenth century. It turned out that African dogs were as diverse as East Asian dogs. We know that dogs couldn't have been domesticated in Africa, because there are no C. lupus in Africa (except for a possible wolf in Egypt and Libya, which is now considered a golden jackal).

This study looked at actual nuclear DNA sequences and compared them to wild wolf populations. It used the same technique that has been used to trace the inheritance of diseases in all sorts of species-- including dogs.

I'm convinced about this one.

Not all techniques are equal. The Savolainen study isn't nearly a complete or sophisticated as this one. What more, we have other evidence that corroborates a Middle Eastern origin for the domestic dog (archaeology in particular).

Retrieverman said...

The other part of this study that was particularly interesting is that dogs and wolves have had an extensive gene exchange. That's why East Asian dogs have an affinity for Chinese wolves.

Anonymous said...

I have lived long enough to ALWAYS take a "wait-and-see" view on any of these scientific "break-throughs"--they often get overruled by new technology and other studies--you really MUST take the whole picture into account, and scientific research egos are prone to crow loudly for attention just like in any other human field of endeavor. HOWEVER, I am inclined to find this new theory perfectly plausible--it IS, after all, likely the first place humans and wolves met, and I don't doubt the association began even earlier than any evidence(so far) indicates. Another clue--feral dog populations left to breed and survive on their own with little or no human selection going on often end up looking very Dingo-like(leading many to believe that dogs are descended from a Dingo-like ancestor somehow seperate from wolves)--but most peoples' idea of a "wolf" is the large, thick-coated(in Winter) subspecies from the Northern regions. An Arabian peninsula wolf looks VERY much like a Dingo(except they are rather more grayish in color than the Dingos' most common Yellowish color phase). But whatever, wait and see.....It irks me no end how Coppinger's "theory" of dogs "domesticating themselves" has been accepted almost without question, when it is based on nothing more than hunches(no real tangible evidence AT ALL!) utilizing zero common sense--even to the point it is being used for political reasons now--I recently read on a Vetinary website that has taken the now "politically correct" view that "dominance theory" is all wrong--we shouldn't be DOMINANT over our dogs, but their "leaders" instead(the differnce?)--but doesn't even refer to Coppinger's notions as a theory, but presents it as if it were proven FACT--because it supports the idea that dogs didn't develop as hunters in a pack(like wolves), but as scavengers to humans, therefore human manipulation and training methods of the past are all wrong.....nonesense like this just confuses an already bewildered public. Always question "theories", and utilize COMMON SENSE in one's evaluations--my experience with the scientific community is that they are often brilliant intellectually in some ways, but sorely lacking in common sense.....L.B.

Retrieverman said...

Not only are there few archeological sites that show dogs at all in China.

There are NO wolves in Southeast Asia. And there never have been.

There are dholes-- and historically there were plenty of them.

But no wolves.

In fact, there may be a form of gray dhole that is found in Myanmar, but it has not be documented.

The dog of Africa are as diverse in the mitochondrial haplotypes as those in Southeast Asia.

I think this one pretty much killed the East Asian theory, of which I've always been skeptical.

No one claims that dogs come from Africa (except MSNBC, which reported a study incorrectly).

Steve Bodio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Bodio said...

First, there WERE wolves in SE Asia at least 50,000 years ago: Canis "lupus" variabilis, rather more doglike than true C lupus.

Second, there are still wolves in India and Tibet, really no distance at all.

The most primitive dogs are still there and not very "lupus" like.

I just don't think any of this is firmly settled.

Steve Bodio said...

First, there WERE wolves in SE Asia at least 50,000 years ago: Canis "lupus" variabilis, rather more doglike than true C lupus.

Second, there are still wolves in India and Tibet, really no distance at all.

The most primitive dogs are still there and not very "lupus" like.

I just don't think any of this is firmly settled.

Retrieverman said...

50,000 years ago?

That seems a bit early for dog domestication. I'm very skeptical about the original Wayne study that said over 100,000 years ago. (And yes, I'm aware that this is another Wayne study.)

The oldest possible dog skull is 31,000 years old, and it was found in Belgium. The next oldest is 16,000-17,000 years old, and it's from the Dniepr Basin-- again, not in Asia.

Savolainen probably means C. lupus lupus or C. lupus chanco or Southern China. The recent Wayne study did find evidence for Chinese wolves in Chinese dog populations. I don't know what Savolainen means that no East Asian dogs were in the study, because chows were clearly included. I don't think that subspecies you mention has ever been considered a possibility for the domestic dog.

One of the real problems with finding the place for domestication is that dogs and wolves have not fully separated. There has been a continuous gene flow.

The other problem is we have totally effed up purebred dogs in the West. Their gene pools lack diversity.

But I started to question Savolainen when Boyko came out with his finding about African dogs.

It turns out that African village dogs are as diverse in their mtDNA haplotypes as those in East Asia. Savolainen oversampled dogs from East Asia in his sample.

I'm not saying Asian wolves didn't play a role, but it seems to me that the evidence would show either North Africa or the Middle East as the first contact between humans and wolves. We get this evidence from several different disciplines (archeology, genetics, the fact that Arabian wolves look very similar to dingoes in almost every way).

BTW, it's been determined that Indian and Tibetan wolves might be genetically distinct enough to be separate species. I am skeptical of that finding, but there is general doubt that they contributed to the domestication of dogs. Chinese wolves, well, there is evidence of that in this new Wayne study.

This study is not saying that there are no Asian wolves in dogs. It saying that the source for most dog genes comes from Arabian wolves (the same one that exists in Israel and the Sinai of Egypt).

I don't think Savolainen's study is as sophisticated as the methodology in this one, and his has a methodological error that I've never heard him address to my satisfaction. Most domestic dogs from Europe are so inbred that it distorts any analysis based upon the diversity of mtDNA haplotypes.

If only we didn't do this to our dogs, we would be able to use that method.