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Animal Update: DNA Unlocking Links Between Dogs, Wolves

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Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Jeff Bell20100908_KCBS_0122r Jeff Bell
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(KCBS) – Researchers have begun to pinpoint the evolution of dogs from wolves by using genetic sequencing.

“Recently, researchers compared the DNA from dogs and wolves from around the world and by using this sequencing technique what they found were two big sets of genes that were different. And they had to do with brain development and behavior, and digestion,” explained Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA.

“Dogs evolved from wolves about 11,000 years ago, around the same time that humans began to farm high carbohydrate foods and what they found is that the genes that are different have to do with starch digestion,” said Scarlett. “Dogs have about 28 times more ability to digest starch than wolves.”

There are some conclusions that can be drawn from the research that is helpful to veterinarians.

“Well, one is it’s just fascinating to try to understand how dogs came to be, such social and domesticated animals. But the jury is still out whether or not the genes that affected behavior came first or did they hang around and start eating foods from farming and that’s what drove the behavior changes.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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