Our Bond With Dogs May Go Back More Than 27,000 Years

Our Bond With Dogs May Go Back More Than 27,000 Years

This image compares an ancient Taimyr Wolf bone from the lower jaw to a modern pipette. Credit: Love Dalen

This image compares an ancient Taimyr Wolf bone from the lower jaw to a modern pipette.
Credit: Love Dalen

Dogs’ special relationship to humans may go back 27,000 to 40,000 years, according to genomic analysis of an ancient Taimyr wolf bone reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 21. Earlier genome-based estimates have suggested that the ancestors of modern-day dogs diverged from wolves no more than 16,000 years ago, after the last Ice Age.

The genome from this ancient specimen, which has been radiocarbon dated to 35,000 years ago, reveals that the Taimyr wolf represents the most recent common ancestor of modern wolves and dogs.

“Dogs may have been domesticated much earlier than is generally believed,” says Love Dalén of the Swedish Museum of Natural History. “The only other explanation is that there was a major divergence between two wolf populations at that time, and one of these populations subsequently gave rise to all modern wolves.” Dalén considers this second explanation less likely, since it would require that the second wolf population subsequently became extinct in the wild.

“It is [still] possible that a population of wolves remained relatively untamed but tracked human groups to a large degree, for a long time,” adds first author of the study Pontus Skoglund of Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute.

The researchers made these discoveries based on a small piece of bone picked up during an expedition to the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. Initially, they didn’t realize the bone fragment came from a wolf at all; this was only determined using a genetic test back in the laboratory. But wolves are common on the Taimyr Peninsula, and the bone could have easily belonged to a modern-day wolf. On a hunch, the researchers decided to radiocarbon date the bone anyway. It was only then that they realized what they had: a 35,000-year-old bone from an ancient Taimyr wolf.

The DNA evidence also shows that modern-day Siberian Huskies and Greenland sled dogs share an unusually large number of genes with the ancient Taimyr wolf.

“The power of DNA can provide direct evidence that a Siberian Husky you see walking down the street shares ancestry with a wolf that roamed Northern Siberia 35,000 years ago,” Skoglund says. To put that in perspective, “this wolf lived just a few thousand years after Neandertals disappeared from Europe and modern humans started populating Europe and Asia.”


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The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

 

A Wife’s Happiness is More Crucial than Her Husband’s in Keeping Marriage on Track

A Wife’s Happiness is More Crucial than Her Husband’s in Keeping Marriage on Track

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When it comes to a happy marriage, a new Rutgers study finds that the more content the wife is with the long-term union, the happier the husband is with his life no matter how he feels about their nuptials.

“I think it comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life,” said Deborah Carr, a professor in the Department of SociologySchool of Arts and Science. ”Men tend to be less vocal about their relationships and their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives.”

Carr and Vicki Freedman, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, co-authored a research study published in the October issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family on marital quality and happiness among older adults.

The study, done by the two Big Ten universities, differs from previous research, according to Carr, because it examines the personal feelings of both spouses to determine how these marital appraisals influence the psychological well-being of older adults. Researchers analyzed data of 394 couples who were part of a national study of income, health and disability in 2009.  At least one of the spouses was 60 or older and, on average, couples were married for 39 years.

In order to assess marital quality, those involved in the study were asked several questions, such as whether their spouse appreciates them, argues with them, understands their feelings or gets on their nerves. They were also asked to keep detailed diaries about how happy they were in the previous 24 hours doing selected activities like shopping, doing household chores and watching television.

Those involved in the study, on average, rated their general life satisfaction high, typically five out of six points – with husbands rating their marriage slightly more positive than their wives.

“For both spouses being in a better-rated marriage was linked to greater life satisfaction and happiness,” Carr said.

Still, she said, the study also found that while wives became less happy if their spouses became ill, the husbands’ happiness level didn’t change or reflect the same outcome if their wives got sick.

“We know that when a partner is sick it is the wife that often does the caregiving which can be a stressful experience,” said Carr. “But often when a women gets sick it is not her husband she relies on but her daughter.”

The study is important, the researchers said, because the quality of a marriage can affect the health and well-being of older individuals as they continue to age.

“The quality of a marriage is important because it provides a buffer against the health-depleting effects of later life stressors and helps couples manage difficult decisions regarding health and medical decision making,” Carr said.

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The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers University. The original article was written by Robin Lally. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.