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An international team of scientists has just identified what they believe is the world's first known dog, which was a large and toothy canine that lived 31,700 years ago and subsisted on a diet of horse, musk ox and reindeer, according to a new study.The discovery could push back the date for the earliest dog by 17,700 years, since the second oldest known dog, found in Russia, dates to 14,000 years ago.
From Pekingese to St. Bernard and greyhound, dogs come in such startling variety it's easy to forget they belong to the same species . The profusion of breeds today -- at least 150 -- reflects intense, purposeful interbreeding of dogs in the past 150 years.
One consequence of interbreeding to create purebreds with sharply individual traitsis that many disease-causinggenes have become concentrated in these breeds. Because of the growing concern about health problems and the availability of powerful methods to hunt genes, scientists are hard at work on the "dog genmoe project." As with the Human Genome Project, the goal is to locate and map canine genes, particularly those that play a role in disease. Genes that influence behavior are also of great interest.