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Biodiscovery - LLC / MYcroarray

Country: United States

Biodiscovery - LLC / MYcroarray

2 Projects, page 1 of 1
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/K005243/1
    Funder Contribution: 443,723 GBP

    The shift from hunting and gathering to an agricultural way of life was one of the most profound events in the history of our species and one which continues to impact our existence today. Understanding this process is key to understanding the origins and rise of human civilization. Despite decades of study, however, fundamental questions regarding why, where and how it occurred remain largely unanswered. Such a fundamental change in human existence could not have been possible without the domestication of selected animals and plants. The dog is crucial in this story since it was not only the first ever domestic animal, but also the only animal to be domesticated by hunter-gatherers several thousand years before the appearance of farmers. The bones and teeth of early domestic dogs and their wild wolf ancestors hold important clues to our understanding of how, where and when humans and wild animals began the relationship we still depend upon today. These remains have been recovered from as early as 15,000 years ago in numerous archaeological sites across Eurasia suggesting that dogs were either domesticated independently on several occasions across the Old World, or that dogs were domesticated just once and subsequently spreading with late Stone Age hunter gatherers across the Eurasian continent and into North America. There are also those who suggest that wolves were involved in an earlier, failed domestication experiment by Ice Age Palaeolithic hunters about 32,000 years ago. Despite the fact that we generally know the timing and locations of the domestication of all the other farmyard animals, we still know very little for certain about the origins of our most iconic domestic animal. New scientific techniques that include the combination of genetics and statistical analyses of the shapes of ancient bones and teeth are beginning to provide unique insights into the biology of the domestication process itself, as well as new ways of tracking the spread of humans and their domestic animals around the globe. By employing these techniques we will be able to observe the variation that existed in early wolf populations at different levels of biological organization, identify diagnostic signatures that pinpoint which ancestral wolf populations were involved in early dog domestication, reveal the shape (and possibly the genetic) signatures specifically linked to the domestication process and track those signatures through time and space. We have used this combined approach successfully in our previous research enabling us to definitively unravel the complex story of pig domestication in both Europe and the Far East. We have shown that pigs were domesticated multiple times and in multiple places across Eurasia, and the fine-scale resolution of the data we have generated has also allowed us to reveal the migration routes pigs took with early farmers across Europe and into the Pacific. By applying this successful research model to ancient dogs and wolves, we will gain much deeper insight into the fundamental questions that still surround the story of dog domestication.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/K005243/2
    Funder Contribution: 330,678 GBP

    The shift from hunting and gathering to an agricultural way of life was one of the most profound events in the history of our species and one which continues to impact our existence today. Understanding this process is key to understanding the origins and rise of human civilization. Despite decades of study, however, fundamental questions regarding why, where and how it occurred remain largely unanswered. Such a fundamental change in human existence could not have been possible without the domestication of selected animals and plants. The dog is crucial in this story since it was not only the first ever domestic animal, but also the only animal to be domesticated by hunter-gatherers several thousand years before the appearance of farmers. The bones and teeth of early domestic dogs and their wild wolf ancestors hold important clues to our understanding of how, where and when humans and wild animals began the relationship we still depend upon today. These remains have been recovered from as early as 15,000 years ago in numerous archaeological sites across Eurasia suggesting that dogs were either domesticated independently on several occasions across the Old World, or that dogs were domesticated just once and subsequently spreading with late Stone Age hunter gatherers across the Eurasian continent and into North America. There are also those who suggest that wolves were involved in an earlier, failed domestication experiment by Ice Age Palaeolithic hunters about 32,000 years ago. Despite the fact that we generally know the timing and locations of the domestication of all the other farmyard animals, we still know very little for certain about the origins of our most iconic domestic animal. New scientific techniques that include the combination of genetics and statistical analyses of the shapes of ancient bones and teeth are beginning to provide unique insights into the biology of the domestication process itself, as well as new ways of tracking the spread of humans and their domestic animals around the globe. By employing these techniques we will be able to observe the variation that existed in early wolf populations at different levels of biological organization, identify diagnostic signatures that pinpoint which ancestral wolf populations were involved in early dog domestication, reveal the shape (and possibly the genetic) signatures specifically linked to the domestication process and track those signatures through time and space. We have used this combined approach successfully in our previous research enabling us to definitively unravel the complex story of pig domestication in both Europe and the Far East. We have shown that pigs were domesticated multiple times and in multiple places across Eurasia, and the fine-scale resolution of the data we have generated has also allowed us to reveal the migration routes pigs took with early farmers across Europe and into the Pacific. By applying this successful research model to ancient dogs and wolves, we will gain much deeper insight into the fundamental questions that still surround the story of dog domestication.

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