- Between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, a genetic quirk in a common wolf ancestor caused it to split into two species, the dog and the Japanese wolf.
- The Japanese wolf, or Honshu wolf, was hunted to extinction in 1905
- Analyzing genomes from preserved samples, the researchers found that the creature shared 5 percent of its DNA with modern Japanese breeds such as the Shiba Inu.
- It had less common genetics with western breeds such as the German Shepherd.
The modern dog diverged from its wild cousin, the gray wolf, about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, but the ancient family tree after that has proved difficult, as no living wolf species is genetically more closely related to the domesticated dog. not closely related.
Now, researchers have found your pet puppy’s closest known wild relative: the Japanese wolf, which was hunted to extinction more than a century ago.
Without living specimens to sample, the researchers took genetic material from the bones of stuffed wolves on display in museums in Europe and Japan, as well as superstitious charms from some skulls placed on roofs.
Comparing the genomes of the extinct species, known in Latin as Canis lupus hodophylax, with a variety of modern wolves, dogs, foxes and other canids, researchers from the Graduate University for Advanced Study in Hayama, Japan, found that the Japanese The wolf emerged right at that moment. The evolutionary split between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.
The data suggests that the two species descended from a single ancestor – a vanishing population of gray wolves that probably lived somewhere in East Asia.
Some of these descendants evolved into Japanese wolves while others gave rise to dogs.
This gives more credence to the theory that dogs first evolved in East Asia, rather than Europe or the Middle East, as others have suggested.
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Extinct since 1905, the Japanese wolf is the domesticated dog’s closest known wild relative, according to a new report.
Yohe Terai, the evolutionary biologist who led the research, explained science magazine That when he and his team assembled their evolutionary tree, they found that the branch containing the Japanese wolf ancestry was closer to dogs than any other animal.
‘It’s a sister relationship,’ said Terai. ‘They are different from any other wolf or dog.’
As Terai reports, there was no clear break between these evolutionary relatives. Pre-print server BioRxiv.
Some interbreeding took place before the ‘Japanese wolves’ actually reached Japan, as the DNA of 9,500-year-old Siberian sled dogs still contained a small percentage of Japanese wolves.
Eastern dog breeds such as the Shina Ibu (shown) share five percent of their DNA with the Japanese wolf, while western breeds such as the German Shepherd have much less
To obtain genetic material without a living wolf, scientists used bones from preserved specimens kept in museums around the world
Today, Eastern dogs—which include modern Japanese breeds like the Shiba Inu, as well as ancient canids like the dingo and New Guinea singing dog—share up to 5.5. Percent DNA with Japanese wolves.
Western dogs such as German shepherds and Labrador retrievers have much less in common.
Researchers from Japan’s Graduate University for Advanced Studies mapped an evolutionary tree that shows Japanese wolves as having a ‘sister relationship’ with modern-day dogs.
At least since they first appeared in written records in the first century, the Japanese wolf, or Honshu wolf, has been viewed as an insect that hunted horses and other livestock.
Japanese folklore speaks of the okurikami, or ‘escort wolf’, who at night chases travelers walking alone in the woods until they reach their destination safely.
It is believed that outbreaks of rabies and deforestation of their habitat forced Japanese wolves into further conflict with humans.
By the 18th century hunters were using guns and poison to kill the animals, and in the 1870s the eradication of wolves became a national policy. The last known Japanese wolf was hunted and killed in 1905
By the 18th century, hunters were using guns and poison to kill the animals, and in the 1870s the eradication of wolves became a national policy. The last known Japanese wolf was hunted and killed in 1905.
Over the years, ideas about where and how often dogs were domesticated have become a matter of debate.
In 2017, DNA analysis of the corpses of two of the world’s oldest known dogs suggested that all modern dogs descended from those domesticated by people who lived in Eurasia during the Upper Paleolithic Age.
Those findings contradict previous theories that dogs were twice domesticated by separate groups living in East and West Eurasia.
A 2,000-year-old dog remains (pictured) in northwestern Siberia indicate that all modern dogs are descended from domestication by peoples who lived in Eurasia during the Upper Palaeolithic.
Although the oldest canine remains that can be clearly distinguished from wolves date back to about 15,000 years ago.
Krishna Veeramah, an evolutionary scientist at Stony Brook University, told MailOnline in 2017: ‘The process of domestication of the dog must have been a very complex process, involving several generations where the signature dog traits gradually evolved.
‘The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs probably occurred passively, with populations of wolves living on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps somewhere in the world, feeding on waste created by humans.
‘Wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful in this, and while humans did not initially benefit from the process, over time they developed some sort of symbiotic relationship with these animals, eventually evolving was happening. In dogs we see today.’