Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Small dogs may all originate from the Middle East
A study shows that a gene found in small dogs, IGF1, is closely related to one found in Middle Eastern wolves. Archaeologists have found the remains of small dogs dating back 12,000 years in the region. In Europe, older remains have been uncovered, dating from 31,000 years ago, but these are from larger dogs. The team of researchers took samples from grey wolf populations around the world. The study says the similarity between the variant found in small dogs and that in the Middle Eastern grey wolf shows small size probably originated as a result of the wolf's domestication. The scientists believe people may have preferred smaller dogs because they were easier to house in farming societies where space was at a premium. Animals often become smaller as a result of domestication and the trend can be seen in cattle, pigs and goats.