Learning to Love Grains, Potatoes Was Key to Evolution of Dogs
You know that dog biscuit shaped like a bone but made mostly of wheat? The fact that your dog is satisfied with it instead of going for a piece of your thigh may be one of the big reasons why its ancestors evolved from wolves to house pets. A team of Swedish researchers has compared the genomes of wolves and dogs and found that a big difference between the two is a dog’s ability to easily digest starch. On its way from pack-hunting carnivore to fireside companion, dogs learned to love — or at least live on — wheat, rice, barley, corn and potatoes.
As it turns out, that’s also a change that human beings underwent as they came out of the forest, built permanent settlements and began to grow grain. “I think it is a striking case of co-evolution,” said Erik Axelsson, a geneticist at Uppsala University. “The fact that we shared a similar environment in the last 10,000 years caused a similar adaptation. And the big change in the environment was the development of agriculture.”