Wolves and dogs: degree of kinship between wild and domestic animals
Practically any person will answer where the man’s best friends came from – dogs. These pets certainly descended from the wolf, but at what point was their life course divided and priorities changed? Zoologists and cynologists are more than confident that the characteristics of an animal as a result of artificial selection can change extremely quickly and beyond recognition – by instinct, by character, by exterior. External signs for zoologists mean, for example, a lot – and color, and the length of the muzzle, and the location of the ears, and the shape of the eyes. Breeds of animals – both wild and domestic – are extremely diverse, and therefore the search for canine ancestors without the latest research methods would be futile.
For example, huskies in the Far North are absolutely similar to Siberian wolves, they live near at all times, why look for some other relatives? But hounds and greyhounds – are similar to our wolves a little. Rather, judging by the appearance, the greyhound is the ancestor of the red wolf or jackal, and the hound is the hyena. For a long time, scientists defended versions of the jackal or wolf-born pet breeds. The evidence was even found in the behavior: the descendants of the wolves were proud and courageous, and the dogs of the jackal of blood were helpful and rather infantile.
And then the wild and domestic animals simply counted the chromosomes. After that, the version of the origin of dogs from wolves began to prevail, because those and the other seventy-eight chromosomes are the same. For example, the jackal has only seventy-four. And the structure and number of chromosomes is an indicator of the type of animal. It means that there is no trace of a jackal in a canine origin. Although, in artificial conditions, a jackal can be mated with a dog, and hybrids will be able to breed. But in nature this never happens. But wolves, for all their hatred of dogs, quite often take some kind of stray dog for their own.
Wolf Related Pets
However, even chromosome counts cannot qualitatively answer the question: did dogs have wolves directly as ancestors, or are they simply close relatives by type of animal? Only at the end of the twentieth century, molecular genetics became involved in research, in particular, American Robert Wayne studied mitochondrial DNA from more than twenty populations: wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingos, and various breeds of domestic animals. Research has not just surprised people far from science, they have amazed even specialists! Indeed, the wolf is the closest relative to the dog, neither coyotes nor jackals can claim any similar features.
But it turned out that dogs are easily subdivided into purely dogs, in which the DNA is not too similar to the wolf, and predominantly to dogs, which are descendants to the wolf – their DNA is almost identical. And now the owners of such breeds of animals as Huskies cannot proudly claim that their dog is the same wolf. Not! There, the similarity of DNA was as distant as that of a wolf and a Giant Schnauzer with an Airedale Terrier! Almost all ancient breeds of dogs, traditionally considered the closest to a wolf, have a minimum of precisely “wolf” structures in DNA. Closer than other ancient breeds were the Norwegian elk dog and the Swedish gray. But those – further than the German Shepherd, Bulldog, Irish Spaniel, Poodle and Retriever! Just imagine that a poodle is closer to a wolf than a husky sled dog is incredibly difficult.
But this is understandable, if the expert will be engaged in explanations. The sooner the breed of domestic animals was founded, the longer it developed, the more changes occurred in its DNA, since there was a selection, namely, mitochondrial DNA is transmitted only through the female line. A domestic dog, even a husky, will never “persuade” a real wolf to start a family, but a wolf, sometimes, is tempted by a pretty dog. As a result, all the direct descendants of the crossing of a sled dog and a wolf will not change the original canine DNA structure. Therefore, not only such wonderful writers as Jack London were mistaken, but also researchers of the Farley Mowatt level regarding the crossing of wolves and riding huskies. This people brought their wards sled dogs to the North, they were not taken out anew each time. The same husky found similarities with wolves, not even polar or American, but with European ones, but there are few such similarities. Most likely, this is due to crossing within the breed of these dogs.
Even more interesting was the similarity of the oldest pet – Mexican hairless dog and one of the most beautiful dogs – the Afghan hound. The first was brought out three thousand years ago by the Aztecs, and the second was depicted on Egyptian frescoes during the time of the pharaohs. The same type of DNA in the mastiff from the Pyrenees and the wolfhound from Ireland. These are completely different animals, and where they live is, of course, not at all close. Such a similarity could not but be affected by much later reconstructions and crossings.