The fraction of haplotypes found in a region-specific population of wolf that is also found in a breed of dog. (vonHoldt
advanced statistical tools to compare the SNPs conserved in dogs but
not wolves, the researchers also found a few genes they believe to be
candidates to be genes positively selected for when dogs were
domesticated. Two genes near regions that scored high under this
analysis have versions in humans and mice that have been found to be
related to memory and becoming sensitive to behaviors, both of which
would have been important in order fo humans and proto-dogs to have a
symbiotic relationship. Another high scoring SNP was near a gene
responsible for a disorder of exceptional friendliness in humans.
Given that wolves are carnivorous, it is likely that friendliness
was an important feature for any domesticated wolves.
Popular Media Coverage
is said to be man's best friend and the popular media assumed, likely
correctly, that many have wondered and would be interested in where
their dog has come from evolutionarily. To match this area of
interest, The New York Times
article on the paper focused on the authors' assertion that dogs were
first domesticated in the Middle East, to the virtual exclusion of
anything else put forth by the authors, including the specifics of the
methods used to reach that conclusion. The extent of the
description of the methods is the researchers scanned "for similar runs
of DNA" and that the authors made use of SNPs. Admittedly The New York Times
is writing for people with a very limited science background, but they fail to even say what the abbreviation SNP stands for.
relationship between the different dog breeds is mentioned only in
passing, composing a single paragraph in which it is said that
different function groups were found grouped together, and that this
surprised one of the authors, who offers a quote. A part which
half the figures in the original paper are designed to support is
confined to a two sentence paragraph.
The popular source does a
good job of providing context for the feature they decided to
concentrate on. They explain how this new data fits in with other
data from other studies and fields including archeology, briefly
explain the old, contradicted explanation for where dogs were
domesticated and even get a quote from the purporter of that theory,
and get reactions from other experts in the field. Thus the
article covers its limited scope very well, but would leave the reader
mostly oblivious of other results of the study and the methods of the
study in general.
VonHoldt, Bridgett M. "Genome-wide SNP and Haplotype Analyses Reveal a Rich History Underlying Dog Domestication." Nature 464 (2010): 898-902. ISI Web of Knowledge.
Web. 27 Jan. 2011.
Wade, Nicholas. "New Finding Puts Origins of Dogs in Middle East." The New York Times 18
Mar. 2010: 6. 17 Mar. 2010. Web. 27 Jan. 2011.