Tonight PBS will air the first of a two part Nature special titled “Dogs That Changed the World” (part two airs next Sunday; local PBS stations might air the programs at different times, so check your local listings). From the program Web page:

In [part 1] THE RISE OF THE DOG, you’ll learn about how the domestication of dogs might have taken place, including the theory of biologist Raymond Coppinger that it was the animals themselves-and human trash-that inspired the transformation. The genetic analysis of Peter Savolainen of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden has placed the origins of domesticated dogs-and those of the first dog-in East Asia. You’ll also discover 14 dog breeds that controversial genetic studies show are the most ancient-and the best living representatives of the ancestors to all living dogs.

If you can’t wait until tonight, check out the video podcast PBS created to accompany the series.