August 11, 2022

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Breeding of the Dog | Ancient Siberian dogs were attracted by fish from humans

(Washington) Beginning about 7400 years ago, Siberian dogs evolved much smaller than wolves. According to a new study, they depended on humans for food, including marine mammals and fish trapped beneath the ice.

Published yesterday at 5:26 pm.

According to Robert Losey of the University of Alberta and lead author of the study published Friday in the journal, the research helps us understand how early dog ​​populations may have developed. Scientific advances.

“Long-term changes in dog diets are often oversimplified,” he told AFP, explaining that previous work had focused on two hypotheses to explain the shift from dogs to wolves. , which began 40,000 years ago.

First, more friendly wolves that approached humans for meat isolated themselves from their fellow wolves and were eventually domesticated. Second, after the Agricultural Revolution some dogs developed a better ability to digest starch.

To delve deeper into the diet of ancient dogs, Robert Losey and his colleagues examined the remains of about 200 dogs that lived 11,000 years ago, as well as a similar number of wolves.

“We searched the collections all over Siberia, examined the bones, took collagen samples, and analyzed the proteins in the lab,” he described.

Dogs from 7,000 to 8,000 years ago “were already small enough that they couldn’t do what most wolves could,” said Robert Losey.

Wolves were more dependent on humans for food or hunting smaller prey than large prey that could attack them.

The researchers found that the dogs ate “fish, shellfish, seals and sea lions that he couldn’t easily catch,” Losey noted. They ate this food “in Siberia, where the lakes and rivers are frozen seven to eight months of the year.”

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Wolves for their part at that time (and still) hunted in packs, a variety of deer.

These new foods have brought their share of advantages and disadvantages to dogs.

“The benefits are because they have access to human food, which is usually easy foods, but in return they get all these new diseases and problems like malnutrition,” the researcher said.

If the new bacteria and parasites encountered had helped some to adapt (for example, by better digesting carbohydrates), other populations would not have survived.