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PhD defence

From wolf to dog

  • L.A.A. Janssens
Thursday 27 June 2019
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


Morphometric and morphological differences have been used extensively in the past to
study domestication of the wolf and the origin of dogs. Certainly before genetic testing
was performed, these methods were the only means to diverge both groups. But still
now, when aDNA cannot be extracted, morphometry and morphology are still important
study methods to discern between wolves and dogs.

Many of the historically claimed differences were based on studying rather low numbers of
Specimens, and on comparisons with genetically isolated groups of dogs or breeds that
had anatomical variants which diverge from the mean. This led to several claimed differences
that needed rigorous re-evaluated, by investigating larger groups of specimens, both dogs and
wolves, and more importantly, and if possible, Pleistocene wolves and the oldest archaeological

We re-evaluated all important morphological and morphometric criteria published in the
literature. Most are related to oral, mandibular and skull differences, but also difference in
stature was reported. From all criteria we re-tested very few proved to be valuable. And those
that show a difference, can often only be used to a limited extend, as only the extremes of these
criteria are non-overlapping between groups.


  • Prof. T van Kolfschoten


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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