FossilThe fossils show the genetic diversity that shocked the researchers, spanning nearly all of the domestication or domestication of dogs, from wild wolves to modern dogs.
Reporting from Science Alert, Monday (8/3/2021), the researchers said the specimens of 60 canines from the fossils found including dogs, wolves and foxes, are older, between 14,000 and 3,000 years ago in Europe.
What’s more, the reconstruction of their mitochondrial genome appears to match the collective variation of nearly all of the ancient canines analyzed from the region to date.
The small cave, known as Gnirshöhle, is located in the heart of the Hegau Jura region, a place with many caves that were inhabited by humans from 17,000 to 12,000 years ago.
This area is also known as the ‘Magdalenian hotspot’, a reference to ancient western European culture at the time.
By studying the morphology, genetics, and isotopes of several fossil bones ancient dogs at Gnirshöhle, researchers have reexamined past animal domestication. Making it one of the most comprehensive collections of the canine genome in time and space.
“Interestingly, a recent study focused on the analysis of the nuclear genomes of various ancient dogs has shown the origin of a single bone of modern dogs. Unfortunately, however, it failed to provide a geographic location for such an event,” the researchers said in a new study of dog fossils. ancient in Germany.
The researchers added that although they could not answer the question about the singularity of animal domestication, the study results support the hypothesis that the Hegau Jura was a potential center of the early domestication of European wolves.
The researchers further said that dogs are generally considered to be the oldest domesticated pets in human history, but the details of when, where and why this taming occurred is still unknown.
Recent genetic studies have also shown that dogs were domesticated around the same time in Europe and Asia, before they finally mixed.
Subsequent genomic analysis was not agreed upon, as it only pointed to one European origin.
However, this study does not necessarily end the debate regarding the origin of animal domestication in these dogs.
However, this genetic diversity found in southwestern Germany has shown that humans there domesticated and raised animals from various lineages of wolves.
The oldest undisputed dog fossil, it is believed to be from about 14,000 years ago, with other, more controversial remains perhaps dating back 30,000 years.
Describing the differences between the earliest domesticated dogs and their cousins, the wolf, is very difficult and somewhat subjective, especially since this transition is gradual.
It is generally accepted, however, that dogs first appeared about 16,000 years ago in Europe and Siberia.
The new discoveries mostly support that date, at least in Europe.
“The proximity of these animals to humans and indications of a rather limited diet suggest that between 16,000 and 14,000 years ago, wolves were domesticated and raised as dogs,” said biologist Chris Baumann of the University of Tübingen in Germany.
Thus, Baumann continued, a single origin of European domestic dogs can be found in southwest Germany.
However, that does not necessarily rule out other locations where dogs domesticated independently of the gray wolf.
This is because, in fact, the Gnirshöhle canids genome has introduced a previously unknown lineage that is incompatible with any other dog found in the region.
Therefore, it is likely that this lineage could represent a population of dogs that evolved from elsewhere in the world, perhaps even from Asia.
For now, these conclusions are still conjecture. Neither the genetics nor the fossil remains of canines from Gnirshöhle were sufficient to determine whether these canids were dogs, wolves, or something in between.
“Thus, we consider the Gnirshöhle canid to possibly represent an early phase in wolf domestication, facilitated by humans actively providing a food source for these early domesticated pets,” the study authors suggested.
Study of dog domestication The ancient fossils found in Germany have been published in Scientific Reports.