Research examines how dogs became domesticated

Taylor Dogs

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Having a dog for a pet is something millions of Americans have; here in Austin many restaurants even cater to you bringing your dog.

Right now there is research being done that looks at how dogs became attached to humans unlike any other animal.

Joining us is the KXAN studio is Dr. Adam Boyko, a Cornell University dog genomicist, who is presenting at a seminar at UT today.

Looking at the research concerning dogs becoming domesticated, it appears that dogs have been a furry companion for humans for 15,000 years. Dr. Boyko’s research examines the reasons dogs wanted to be around humans.

“There’s no doubt they were hanging around [hunting] camps and becoming gradually more attuned to human life,” said Dr. Boyko. “The question is what was the first step for why that was happening. It’s tempting to ask whether it was something to do with hunting. I think it’s clear that scavenging by wolves on human kills [of large mammals] could have been the driving force.”

According to Dr. Boyko genetic changes in those wolves led to tameness, and small body size. He found that early age of first reproduction could have started the animals down an evolutionary course that was less compatible with a hunting lifestyle.

As they evolved, dogs hitched themselves to humans, said Dr. Boyko “which was a pretty good gamble as it turned out, because there are about a billion dogs in the world today and probably not even 10 million wolves.”

If you would like to check out Dr. Boyko’s talk titled “Evolution unleashed: the patterning of canine genetic diversity” – it’s happening at 10:30 a.m. inside the Norman Hackerman Building on campus. It is open to the public.

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