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It has long been known that the first dogs were domesticated from wolves who found humans to be too competitive as a predator and too difficult as to be prey. Slowly, they decided that food was easier found when provided by humans and in turn provided companionship and protection. Archeologists and geneticists have long agreed that dogs first came from the Eurasian gray wolf some 15,000 years ago. However, it has never been quite narrowed down where dogs were first domesticated until now.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the first domesticated dogs originated in Central Asia. After analyzing the DNA of over 5,000 purebreds and mixed dog breeds, researchers speculate that the first domesticated dog originated from either modern-day Nepal or Mongolia.

Adam Boyko of Cornell University and his colleagues analyzed 185,000 different genetic markers in blood samples from 4,676 purebred dogs of 161 breeds, 167 mixed breed dogs and 549 village dogs found throughout 38 countries to try and narrow down the domesticated dog's point of origin. Factors such as isolation and gene flow strong affected the genetic diversity in dogs. Tropical dogs like those in the South Pacific came from European stock even though large dog breeds existed in these regions long before the first European contact. Likewise dogs originally existed in Africa before European contacts, but in both regions the indigenous dogs were largely replaced by European breeds, limiting their genetic markers.

However, countries like Vietnam, India and Egypt showed very little European influence. Instead, they showed Central Asia as a domestication origin. The dogs in Asia also showed a wide array of genetic diversity, which came from close contact to Central Asia and was the determining factor in the study.

Gray wolves have been dated to Central Asia since the Mesolithic era where they exploited large mammals around the same time as early humans. However, as our population density and hunting technology increased, it forced wolves to become scavengers. This ultimately made them more pliable to domestication.

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