Going to the dogs

I’m taking advantage of the sunny weather in New England to take the day off and go for a hike with my dog, Lola, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. In the meantime, check out these wonderful links on the evolution of dogs (and their cousins):

It is a little out of date, but National Geographic’s story from a few years ago on the evolution of dogs has some wonderful pictures.

Brian Hare has done some wonderful work on the co-evolution of dogs and humans. Check out his 2005 paper, with Michael Tomasello, here (and I think the PDF is available if you do a search for it), and a 2008 response to critics of the work here.

Genomics has of course entered into the story of the evolution and domestication of dogs. Here is a 2010 article by Jonathan Akey and colleagues looking for signs of artificial selection in the dog genome. Here is another 2010 piece, by Bridgett vonHoldt and colleagues using genomic approaches to look at the history of dog domestication.

For a more archaeological perspective, check out this recent piece arguing for incipient domestication of dogs 33,000 years in the Altai Mountains of Siberia by Nikolai Ovodov and colleagues.

To round out the picture, here is an article (one of several) documenting the apparently widespread hybridization of wolves and coyotes in North America.


1. Hare B, Tomasello M, Human-like social skills in dogs? Trends in Cognitive Sciences Volume 9, Issue 9, September 2005, Pages 439-444. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.07.003

2. Hare B, et al. The domestication hypothesis for dogs’ skills with human communication:
a response to Udell et al. (2008) and Wynne et al. (2008). Animal Behaviour 79 (2010) e1–e6. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.06.031.

3. Akey JM, et al. Tracking footprints of artificial selection in the dog genome. PNAS January 19, 2010 vol. 107 no. 3 1160-1165. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909918107.

4. vonHoldt BM, et al. Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication. Nature 464, 898-902 (8 April 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08837.

5. Ovodov ND, et al. A 33,000-Year-Old Incipient Dog from the Altai Mountains of Siberia: Evidence of the Earliest Domestication Disrupted by the Last Glacial Maximum. PLoS ONE 6(7): e22821. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022821.

6. Kays R, Curtis A, Kirchman JJ. Rapid adaptive evolution of northeastern coyotes via hybridization with wolves. Biol. Lett. 23 February 2010 vol. 6 no. 1 89-93. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0575.

About Adam Van Arsdale

I am biological anthropologist with a specialization in paleoanthropology. My research focuses on the pattern of evolutionary change in humans over the past two million years, with an emphasis on the early evolution and dispersal of our genus, Homo. My work spans a number of areas including comparative anatomy, genetics and demography.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Going to the dogs

  1. Daniel Lende says:

    Sorry to hear about your dog, Adam. Good to hear that you are taking the time to go for walks, to enjoy yourself and your dog. My family absolutely loves our dog Jake.

    Thanks too for the mentions. I’ve enjoyed your blog so far, and look forward to more. It’s great to see more anthropologists embrace these empowering mediums.

    All the best, Daniel

    • Adam Van Arsdale says:

      It is a nice way to consolidate my thoughts of the week, in addition to enjoying the walk itself. Now off to the kids’ basketball practice…

Comments are closed.