Friday, November 24, 2023
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Future dogs: Genetics, AI show what canines could be like 10,000 years from now

Origins of all modern dogs trace back to humans' historical alliance with wolves

By
Web Desk
Illustration of a Poodle, a Golden Retriever, a Greyhound, and a Pomeranian if global warming continues.—Basepaws
Illustration of a Poodle, a Golden Retriever, a Greyhound, and a Pomeranian if global warming continues.—Basepaws

Veterinarian experts at California-based Basepaws, a pet genetics testing company, have harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to envision the potential evolution of dog breeds over the next 10,000 years.

Partnering with renowned veterinarian Ernie Ward, they input insights into neural networks to produce intriguing visualizations of future canine forms.

The origins of modern dogs trace back to a historical alliance with wolves, a bond firmly established and likely to endure into the distant future. Leveraging recent advancements in AI, the geneticists collaborated with Ward to explore two possible evolutionary scenarios influenced by global climate changes.

Global warming scenario

Ward envisions a future shaped by global warming, where shifts in climate conditions impact the way dogs are nurtured and cared for by humans. Resource scarcity during this period may lead to a reduction in canine body mass, with smaller-sized bodies requiring less food and energy while being more adaptable to heat. 

The decrease in skin surface offers protection against harmful ultraviolet radiation, potentially resulting in darker skin tones. Rising temperatures might prompt dogs to shed their fur, become more active at night, and develop larger heads and ears for cooling. 

Adaptations in metabolism may also allow canines to endure longer periods without rehydration if water becomes scarce.

Ice age scenario

Alternatively, if the world experiences a new Ice Age, dogs are anticipated to evolve thicker and denser fur for insulation. While the impact of colder temperatures on dog size remains uncertain, an increase in body fat is foreseen to serve as an energy reservoir for survival. 

The evolution could lead to more wolf-like characteristics, featuring stronger muscles essential for hunting and running. In extreme cases, these adaptations might challenge human-canine friendship as dogs potentially compete for food and shelter.

The exploration of future canine evolution extends even beyond Earth, contemplating scenarios that may unfold if humanity succeeds in creating habitable zones on other planets.