CLOSE
Original image
Getty

Genetic Study Suggests Dogs Originated in Central Asia

Original image
Getty

Before dogs came in a variety of shapes, sizes, and fluffiness levels, ancient human domesticated Eurasian gray wolves. Scientists agree that the first dogs appeared at least 15,000 years ago, but where in the world they originated has proven trickier to pin down. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science indicates that dogs were first domesticated in Central Asia, near what today would be considered Mongolia and Nepal.

Previous genetic analyses of canine species has variously placed the origin of dogs in southern China, the Middle East, or Europe, while the earliest archaeological evidence is found in Europe and Siberia. This latest genomic study, conducted by Adam Boyko and his team at Cornell University, looked at the genetic markers of 5225 dogs—4676 purebreds from 161 breeds and 549 "village dogs" that roam freely around human settlements in 38 countries. The highest concentration of genetic diversity was found in Central Asia, which suggests that Canis familiaris was first domesticated in the region. 

Genetic diversity in dogs gradually narrows as you move further from Mongolia and Nepal, with Vietnam, India, Egypt, and Afghanistan being part of the next highest “ring” and diversity decreasing from there. This same genetic ripple pool can be observed in humans, with our epicenter of genetic diversity beginning in East Africa. 

What set the results of Boyko’s study apart from similar analyses that had been done in the past was the type of dogs that were sampled. Village dogs are the least studied group of domestic canines, but they’re also the most numerous and genetically diverse, which indicates they've been around a long time. Compare that to the genetic thumbprint of a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, which while adorable is only about 900 years old

[h/t Popular Science

Original image
Focus Features
arrow
Animals
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
Original image
Focus Features

If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

Original image
iStock
arrow
technology
This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
Original image
iStock

Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios