Universiteit Leiden

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From wolf to dog

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.

L.A.A. Janssens
27 June 2019
Dissertation in Open Access

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 dogs.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.

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