Early Humans Didn't Domesticate Wolves

Man's best friend diverged from wolves at least 11,000 years ago.

These furry guys probably didn't get along with early humans. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Regardless of what Hollywood might have you believe, early humans probably didn't frolic with wolves. For a study in the journal PLoS Genetics, researchers sequenced canine genomes to learn more about the evolutionary history of dogs. They found that man's best friend diverged from wolves at least 11,000 years ago.

The findings refute popular conceptions that humans domesticated friendlier wolves during an extended period of time. Instead, it appears that wolves and dogs diverged from their common ancestor before humans established agricultural societies.

According to the study, early dogs probably lacked a gene that most of today's dogs have, which made them more carnivorous than their modern counterparts. These meat-preferring dogs likely befriended hunter-gatherers and then adapted to the life and diet of early agricultural societies.

The news complicates research about dog domestication. Although the study's authors have confidence in their divergence theory, they note that dogs could also have evolved from now-extinct species of ancient wolves.

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