More on dogs and wolves…

The good news:  Our recent paper on dog domestication has been recommended by F1000. Thanks to F1000 member Norman Johnson for taking note of our work!

The bad news:  Our paper was misinterpreted and misused by Ham during the Nye/Ham debate regarding creationism and evolution.  There are many angles on which one could respond, but I want to quickly reinforce:  We clearly see dogs are a close relative of wolves on the basis of DNA sequence similarity.  Everything we observe is consistent with a history of descent with modification and the very same figure he cited shows how dogs fit into an evolutionary tree with related lineages of wolves and a golden jackal.

More generally speaking as a geneticist: Numerous subtle predictions of evolutionary theory are borne out in DNA sequence data. As genome-scale sequences have finally become available to us, it’s been amazing to see how a single theoretical framework can predict so many patterns seen in these massive datasets.  It would be impossible to make sense of our observations without it.  In more practical terms, numerous advances in the understanding and treatment of heritable and infectious diseases, as well as in conservation biology, would not have been possible without an evolutionary framework for analysis and interpretation of data.

To read more, writer Stephanie Pappas has an article summarizing immediate scientific responses to the debate.  Find it here.

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