Jul 18, 2017

Ancient DNA suggests dogs domesticated just once 40,000 years ago

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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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

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