The morphology of the mandibular coronoid process does not indicate that Canis lupus chanco is the progenitor to dogsThe morphology of the mandibular coronoid process does not indicate that Canis lupus chanco is the progenitor to dogs
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Evolutionary ecology group (EVECO)
Zoomorphology : evolutionary, comparative and functional morphology. - Berlin
135(2016):2, p. 269-277
University of Antwerp
The domestication of wolves is currently under debate. Where, when and from which wolf sub-species dogs originated are being investigated both by osteoarchaeologists and geneticists. While DNA research is rapidly becoming more active and popular, morphological methods have been the gold standard in the past. But even today morphological details are routinely employed to discern archaeological wolves from dogs. One such morphological similarity between Canis lupus chanco and dogs was published in 1977 by Olsen and Olsen. This concerns the "turned back" anatomy of the dorsal part of the vertical ramus of the mandible that was claimed to be specific to domestic dogs and Chinese wolves C. lupus chanco, and "absent from other canids". Based on this characteristic, C. lupus chanco was said to be the progenitor of Asian and American dogs, and this specific morphology has been continuously used as an argument to assign archaeological specimens, including non-Asian and non-American, to the dog clade. We challenged this statement by examining 384 dog skulls of 72 breeds and 60 skulls of four wolf sub-species. Only 20 % of dog mandibles and 80 % of C. lupus chanco showed the specific anatomy. In addition, 12 % of Canis lupus pallipes mandibles showed the "turned back" morphology. It can be concluded that the shape of the coronoid process of the mandible cannot be used as a morphological trait to determine whether a specimen belongs to a dog or as an argument in favour of chanco as the progenitor to dogs.