Over the weekend, a science writer friend tipped me off to a paper to be published on Monday—“Complex population structure in African village dogs and its implications for inferring dog domestication history.” It was a gloriously sunny weekend, perfect for adventures with Lulu and Renzo, so I gave the paper a skim and managed to underappreciate the implications.
As usual, I left it to The New York Times to translate the “mtDNA haplotype diversity” into Research Undermines Dog Domestication Theory. Now this is something my little English-major brain can get. In short, the researchers' DNA-sampling of African village dogs revealed enormous genetic diversity—roughly the same amount of diversity as found in East Asia dogs. This is important because genetic diversity is closely associated with origin. The researchers aren’t arguing for Africa as the place of domestication but the study helps point the way for additional research involving samples from wolves as well as dogs.