A new study confirms that an Asian region south of the Yangtze River in China, was the principal and probably sole area where wolves were domesticated by humans.
Data on genetics, morphology and behaviour show clearly that dogs are descended from wolves, but there’s never been scientific consensus on where in the world the domestication process began. “Our analysis of Y-chromosomal DNA now confirms that wolves were first domesticated in Asia south of Yangtze River — we call it the ASY region — in southern China or Southeast Asia”, says Dr Peter Savolainen, KTH researcher in evolutionary genetics.
The Y data supports previous evidence from mitochondrial DNA. “Taken together, the two studies provide very strong evidence that dogs originated in the ASY region”, Savolainen says.
Archaeological data and a genetic study recently published in Nature suggest that dogs originate from the Middle East. But Savolainen rejects that view. “Because none of these studies included samples from the ASY region, evidence from ASY has been overlooked,” he says. Read more.