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Native American Dogs Have Asian Origins

A new study has found that indigenous American dog breeds have Asian origins and are thriving today despite fears of them being extinct.

| July 12, 2013 | In the Lab

Asian Scientist (Jul. 12, 2013) - Once thought to have been extinct, native American dogs are on the contrary thriving, according to a study that links these breeds to ancient Asia.

The arrival of Europeans in the Americas has generally been assumed to have led to the extinction of indigenous dog breeds; but a comprehensive genetic study has found that the original population of native American dogs has been almost completely preserved.

In fact, according to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, American dog breeds trace their ancestry to ancient Asia.

In their study, the researchers compared mitochondrial DNA from Asian and European dogs, ancient American archaeological samples, and American dog breeds, including Chihuahuas, Peruvian hairless dogs and Arctic sled dogs.

Through this DNA analysis, they traced the American dogs' ancestry back to East Asian and Siberian dogs, and also found direct relations between ancient American dogs and modern breeds.

"It was especially exciting to find that the Mexican breed, Chihuahua, shared a DNA type uniquely with Mexican pre-Columbian samples," he says. "This gives conclusive evidence for the Mexican ancestry of the Chihuahua," said senior author Peter Savolainen.

The team also analyzed stray dogs, confirming that they are generally runaway European dogs. However in Mexico and Bolivia they identified stray populations with high proportions of indigenous ancestry. The data also suggests that the Carolina Dog, a stray dog population in the U.S., may have an indigenous American origin.

The article can be found at: van Asch et al. (2013) Pre-Columbian Origins Of Native American Dog Breeds, With Only Limited Replacement By European Dogs, Confirmed By mtDNA Analysis.


Source: KTH Royal Institute of Technology; Photo: apdk/Flickr.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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