Dogs May Have Been Man’s Best Friend For More Than 27,000 Years
They still love their packs, often bay at the moon, turn in circles to tromp down their sleeping spaces, kick up a heck of a lot of earth to cover their poop “trail” and have a penchant for anything meat-like. Yes, our pooches still bear many similarities to their ancient counterparts and according to a new study, some much more than others.
You see, researchers have been able to connect the dots that show modern day pooches have a history of special relationships with human folk that date back between 27,000 to 40,000 years! Yes, this amazing connection we have with Rover goes back a long way and some of the brightest minds in the world are devoting some serious little grey cells to explore how and why it started.
The catalyst was the discovery of a small piece of bone that was found during a routine expedition to the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. The type of animal was unknown so it was sent for genetic testing which revealed it was a wolf – not unusual for the region. But after a decision was made to radiocarbon date the bone, the explorers realized what they had was a 35,000-year-old bone from an ancient Taimyr wolf.
Prior to this discovery it was thought the ancestors of modern-day dogs diverged from wolves around 16,000 years ago – after the last Ice Age. The DNA from this ancient specimen reveals that the Taimyr wolf is in fact the most recent common ancestor of modern wolves and dogs.
Even more interesting, evidence shows that modern-day Siberian Huskies and Greenland sled dogs share an unusually large number of genes with this particular creature. So yes, that Husky pup playing with your kids in the yard has some serious ancestry with a wolf that roamed Northern Siberia 35,000 years ago!
But we’ve always known dogs date back thousands of years, how does this new information prove they ever had relationships with humans?
The author of the study, Pontus Skoglund of Harvard Medical School and The Broad Institute, feels it’s possible a population of wolves remained relatively untamed but tracked human groups to a large degree, for a long time. Hmmm… kind of like that stray that followed you home, but bigger and tenfold!
Also leaning towards the theory that wolves were ingratiating themselves into the world of humans is the Swedish Museum of Natural History who feel these new findings point in one of two directions: either dogs were domesticated much earlier than is generally believed or there was a divergence of two wolf populations and one subsequently gave rise to modern day wolves. They feel the latter is a less likely explanation as it would require the second strain of wolves to have become entirely extinct. Again, this points to earlier domestication.
A big shout out to the scientists for this interesting bit of information. We like to take it as a sign that dogs and humans were meant to be together… from the beginning of time!
[Source: Science Daily]
More by Mary Simpson