New tricks and old dogs

Dogs may have been domesticated earlier than previously believed

source: New Scientist March 4 2000 p24

Dogs were thought to have been domesticated some 14,000 years ago, when humans started to settle and grow crops, rather than hunt, but researchers from the University of California argue that dogs may have been domesticated earlier. Carles Vila and his team examined DNA from 67 dog breeds, and found four separate lines descending from wolves to dogs. This implies a minimum of four attempts to domesticate dogs that have been successful. Different breeds show great variations in genetic terms. This diversity suggests that dogs may have been domesticated earlier than previous estimates, perhaps as long ago as 135,000 years. Domestication of dogs may have begun at the time that humans evolved. Further research is being carried out, on ancient dog remains from Latin America and the Middle East, and ancient breeds like the Xolo, to assess how long ago it was that dogs were domesticated.