Where Small Dogs Evolved

on February 27, 2010

ScienceNOW: “Small Dogs Evolved in Middle EastYou may not have been asking, but some scientists think they have the answer to where small dogs “evolved.”

Creationists and evolutionists agree that dogs descend from ancestors shared by modern wolves. Genetic evidence confirms that view, although evolutionists view this as an example of “evolution” from one creature into another—whereas creationists see it as an example of speciation from the original “dog” kind.

Creationists see it as an example of speciation from the original “dog” kind.

Scientists sampled a variety of dogs, both large and small breeds, as well as wolves, foxes, and coyotes to gather genetic data from the insulin-like growth factor 1 gene (IGF1). After analysis, the team learned that the IGF1 variant in all small dogs is rarely found in large dogs and more rarely still in wolves, foxes, or coyotes—which is little surprise, since the gene’s form is associated with the dog’s skeletal size.

Unexpectedly, however, gray wolves from the Middle East carry a form of IGF1 very similar to that found in small dogs. This suggests to the researchers that the “common ancestor” to the world’s small dogs was probably from the Middle East, since (they conclude) it is unlikely small dogs evolved more than once. The scientists speculate that humans may have bred small dogs because they were easier to house and feed in early farming communities.

The data can be explained equally well by the creation worldview. After members of the dog kind disembarked the Ark and began to multiply, many would have stayed with humans at Babel and after the dispersion, becoming domesticated over times; these are what we call “dogs,” while the undomesticated members of the dog kind were the ancestors of today’s wolves, coyotes, etc. The data indicate that the first “wave” of domestication as humans spread across the globe produced large breeds. Separately, one dog with a variant IGF1 gene gave rise to a population of canines, some of which stayed wild and speciated into what we know as the modern gray wolf; the others were domesticated and bred to be small dogs.

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