I know readers here will want to take a look at this NY Times piece entitled “Deeper Digging Needed to Decode a Best Friend’s Genetic Roots.” The article comments on a recent PNAS article recounting the current state of disarray in the study of dog domestication. As the senior author, Greger Larson of the University of Durham (UK) states, experts can’t agree on much other than modern dogs are ultimately descended from wolves.
I was fortunate enough to see Larson give a presentation based on this article at the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Memphis last month. It was astonishing to see how many contradictory positions there are on dog domestication and how poorly supported many seem to be. Larson’s recommendation is that the focus needs to be on the study of archaeologically recovered ancient dog remains and studies of their DNA – an eminently reasonable approach.