Darwin Evolving: Distinguished Naturalists

Dr. Robert K. Wayne May 12, 2010

Robert K. Wayne

Evolutionary History of the Domestic Dog

The domestic dog is one of our most remarkable inventions. The behavioral and functional diversity of the dog far surpasses that of its wild progenitor, the gray wolf. Similarly, in size and proportion, dogs exceed the diversity of the entire carnivore order. The dog genome project and recent advances in biotechnology have enabled a new understanding of the process of domestication and diversification. I discuss our recent molecular findings concerning the origin of the dog and present a new evolutionary tree of dogs that leads to a better understanding of the nature of artificial selection and how it has shaped the diversity of our closest animal companion.