Humans have long wondered how dogs evolved to the domesticated creatures we know today from the not-so-friendly wolves they were tens of thousands of years ago. In a recent research paper published in Cell Research, scientists detail how that evolution might have happened.
In the paper, the team describes a split that happened approximately 33,000 years ago in Southeast Asia, with two separate lineages forming. One of those lineages became the domestic dog we see in homes around the world today. While scientists stress that nobody knows the specifics of what happened, some believe that the relationship between man and dog happened gradually, with wolves beginning to interact with humans as they searched for food.
Over time, the dogs that were less aggressive may have befriended the humans in camps they frequented. They may have begun to learn that those humans were more likely to feed them if they were nice and therefore came around more often. Because those friendlier dogs would have gotten better food, they would have gained an advantage over the more aggressive animals among their breed.
The scientists believe wolves may have begun their migration to the Middle East and Africa 15,000 years ago, with migration to Europe beginning about 10,000 years ago. Occasionally dogs may have cross-bred with wolves during that time, leading to the small traces of wolf DNA found in their genomes today.