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Mariomassone / Flickr

Dogs may have split from wolves in a single domestication event 40,000 years ago, per a new study in Nature Communications. The research challenges an earlier study claiming dogs were domesticated twice — in Asia and Europe.

What they found: Researchers analyzed genomes from dog fossils — including a 7,000-year-old skull found in Germany and a 5,000-year-old specimen from Ireland — and compared them to DNA from modern dogs and wolves. The rates of mutation in the genomes suggest dogs split from wolves about 40,000 years ago and then again into European and Asian breeds about 20,000 years ago, the study says. Domestication happened sometime in between.

  • Not so fast: This study follows a 2016 paper suggesting there were two domestication events: one in Europe and one in Asia. The striking genetic differences between European and Asian dogs supports this hypothesis, Gregor Larson, an author of the 2016 paper, told the Washington Post. He added that scientists have not found ancient dog bones in the middle of the Eurasian continent, suggesting there was no split, but in fact two cases of domestication.
  • A trend: New technology is allowing scientists to analyze ancient DNA samples with more scrutiny and, as a result, piece together timelines of animal domestication that, in turn, can tell us more about the ancient humans they lived beside.

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Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

Biden says he won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.