African village dog
A study based on the DNA sequences of 318 African village dogs from Uganda, Egypt, and Namibia indicates that dogs from most regions of Africa are genetically distinct. There were some exceptions to the diversity in Namibia and Giza, which is proposed to be a result of European colonization or proximity to Eurasia. It was then discovered that African village dogs are "a mosaic of" indigenous dogs and non-native mixed-breed dogs. Another reason the African village dogs have been found to be more genetically diverse is the lack of selective breeding by people, which narrows a breed's gene pools. Previous genetic studies of dogs have confirmed that the domestic dog traces its origins to Eurasian wolves 15,000 to 40,000 years ago.
The information gathered from the study also suggests that breeds originally suspected to have come from Africa, such as the Pharaoh Hound and Rhodesian Ridgeback, have roots outside of Africa. However, the results also indicate that African village dogs descend from indigenous ancestors that are related to the Basenji, a dog originating in the Congo Basin that has many unique traits. The study also said that Afghan Hounds and Salukis appear to be indigenous to the Middle East.
Adam Boyko, the lead author of the study, said: "How the domestication process affects genetic diversity is poorly understood. We were interested in studying village dogs because we expected them to be the modern day dogs most similar to dogs that existed before humans began to create breeds. Our study is unique because we are able to surmise whether specific village dog populations are more genetically similar to breed dogs or indigenous ancestral dogs."
African village dogs became the close companion of people in Africa, beginning in North Africa and spreading south. It quickly became the belief after Boyko's study that when Eurasian wolves became domesticated long before East Asian wolves. Robert Wayne, a professor at University of California, Los Angeles, said that "It's clear dogs did not originate in sub-Saharan Africa, since wolves are not native to that area", but North Africa was a possibility.
While Boyko and his companion Carlos Bustamante did not think dogs originated in Africa, they did suggest that the conclusion of an East Asian origin did not have strong enough evidence. Boyko said that while he did not rule out East Asia as a possibility, it was just as likely that domestication began somewhere else in Eurasia. Boyko also suggested that dogs originated at some point between Africa and East Asia, such as the Caucasus Mountains, and split off from there. A study by Peter Savolainen proposed a region south of the Yangtze River. Boyko says that while the new work has evidence to support Savolainen's theory, he would like to see even more genetic evidence. Carles Vilà of the Biology Station of Doñana-CSIC says, "I do not think this is the last that we will hear of the time and place of the domestication of dogs."
Due to the effects of geography, gene flow barriers, and the presence of non-indigenous dogs in some packs, the African village dog has a complex social structure.
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