Charting the Stone Age spread of dingoes and domesticated dogs
The odyssey of dogs and dingoes from China to Polynesia and Australia can now be mapped. KTH genetic researchers Peter Savolainen and Mattias Oskarsson have presented a new study showing how the domestic dog accompanied humans across the islands of Southeast Asia.
“Our findings show that Polynesian dogs and Australian dingoes came via Thailand and the Malaysian peninsula, not through Taiwan and the Philippines as previously believed,” Savolainen says.
The findings, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, also give new insights into human history.
“Dogs, chicken and pigs were the only household animals that accompanied the people who colonised Polynesia. However, because the dog came through Thailand and man through Taiwan, we now believe that human populations and cultures must have mixed on the way to Polynesia,” Savolainen explains.
Researchers have previously thought that the colonisation of Polynesia by Neolithic seafarers occurred relatively quickly and uniformly via Taiwan.
“But now we can say that it’s most likely that migrant peoples had considerable contact with other cultures over a period of centuries on the way to Polynesia,” Savolainen says.
Savolainen’s previous research has shown that Polynesian dogs and Australian dingoes descended from a single stock of domesticated dogs that can be traced to the Chinese Neolithic, or late Stone Age.
Together with an international research team, Savolainen and Oskarsson analysed DNA from a total of 674 dogs, 232 dingoes and 19 archaeological specimens to determine the spread of the dog across the islands of Southeast Asia.
KTH researchers Peter Savolainen and Mattias Oskarsson work at the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab www.scilifelab.se), a collaboration involving KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, the Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University.
For more information: Peter Savolainen, +46-70-062 4036; email@example.com.
Earlier KTH website articles about Savolainen’s research on dogs: