Where did man's best friend come from? This is a question that may have a more complicated answer thanks to a new study from the University of Oxford.
After studying the inner ear bone of a nearly 5,000-year-old dog from Newgrange (a prehistoric monument in Ireland), scientists have learned that dogs may have been domesticated twice.
During this study, researchers examined the genome of the Newgrange dog and compared it to the nuclear DNA of 605 modern dogs. The study suggests that dogs may have been domesticated 16,000 years ago in Europe and then also domesticated 14,000 years ago in Asia.
These findings combine the two dominant, but conflicting theories of dog domestication that have existed in the scientific community thus far. It seems that dogs may have been domesticated separately in Europe and Asia and mixed together as they moved with humans across continents.
“If it only happened in one place, it was probably a very hard thing to do,” Peter Savolainen, a geneticist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, told Science Magazine. “But if it happened twice, maybe it wasn’t as hard as we thought."
Researchers are continuing their studies, hoping that more samples will shed some light on this double-domestication possibility.
Regardless of where they came from, it seems dogs were destined to become human companions. And we're so glad they did.
Check out this video that explains the new theory: