Before they became known as (wo)man’s best friend, dogs roamed wild like wolves. And while we’ve all heard about the role of humans in the domestication of canines, new research suggests that it had a lot more to do with their own basic need for starches.

A study published in the journal Nature has linked widespread dog domestication with the emergence of agriculture.” In other words, “dogs were likely attracted to humans—and our food—as opposed to humans bringing dogs to settlements.”

Erik Axelsson at Uppsala University’s Science for Life Laboratory led a team in an analysis of DNA from dogs of different breeds compared with wolves. They discovered that dogs possess at least 10 genes that mutated to provide functional support for improved starch digestion.” Wolves, on the other hand, don’t have the same genetic makeup. 

As Axelsson told Discovery News,”It is possible that waste dumps near early human settlements supplied early dogs with a substantial fraction of their nutritional needs.” That means they may have eaten leftovers, like “roots, cereals and food made from cereals, such as bread and porridge, in addition to some meat and bone marrow from discarded bones.”

[via Discovery News]