Dog skull and mandible from the Neolithic site of Bercy (Paris, ca. 4000 BC) Photo J.-C. Domenech Musée de l'Homme
To what extent did human lifestyle influence the metabolism of the first domesticated animals? The study, conducted on ancient specimens of European and Asian dogs and led by scientists of ENS Lyon, CNRS and MNHN, helped raising the veil. The results, published by the Royal Society Open Science, showed that dogs have acquired the ability to digest starch (by duplication of the gene Amy2B) as early as 7,000 years ago. This ability coincides with an early stage of agriculture development and reflects an adaptation to a change of diet. It constitutes an example of co-evolution of human culture and dog genes.
The main author of this publication is Morgane Ollivier, of the ENS de Lyon.
References: Ollivier M. et al. 2016 "Amy2B copy number variation reveals starch diet adaptations in ancient European dogs" R. Soc. open sci. 3: 160449.