European Canines Replaced Ancient New World's Breeds

Henrietta Strickland
July 9, 2018

(A second study, newly published in pre-print server Biorxiv, further discusses these early dogs.) As Science's David Grimm notes, the Koster pups lived about 10,000 years ago, making them the oldest known dogs in the Americas.

The team collected genetic information from 71 ancient dog remains from the Americas and found that early dogs arrived alongside people who eventually settled throughout North, Central and South America.

Senior lead author Dr. Laurent Frantz, from Queen Mary University of London and the Palaeo-BARN, said, "It is fascinating that a population of dogs that inhabited many parts of the Americas for thousands of years, and that was an integral part of so many Native American cultures, could have disappeared so rapidly". A second new study uses a battery of DNA analyses of both modern and ancient canines to search for clues.

Previously, experts suggested the domestication of wolves in North America.

"This suggest something catastrophic must have happened, but we do not have the evidence to explain this sudden disappearance yet".

Through DNA testing of dogs, the remains of which 10 thousand years, scientists have found that all dogs living on the American continent, descended from the ancestor from Siberia to mainland domesticated wolves came during the glacial era along with the hosts. DNA from the tumours can trace them to a single individual, the "founder dog".

But those dogs aren't the dogs you'll pet today.

These ancient dogs became the very first dogs in America and could have been the pure-bred American dogs if not for the European colonization that took place afterward.

By far, the introduction of European dogs had the biggest impact. They likely came over in a wave of migration only about 1,000 years ago-roughly 500 years before the Europeans arrived-meaning that they are a little more closely related. Unfortunately, this, coupled with other reasons including the fact that America's new settlers must have killed native dog populations, as well as their disinterest in breeding the original American dog populations, meant that the original American dogs slowly vanished completely from the Americas. Finally, Europeans were probably being careful not to interbreed what they thought of as "prized" European dogs with "mongrel native" ones, she said. He noted that we had only sequenced the nuclear DNA of three other ancient dogs until now.

Thousands of dogs around the world - from Aboriginal camp dogs in Australia to street dogs in Buenos Aires - are affected by an extraordinary type of infectious cancer that causes genital tumours and can jump between individuals, known as Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour or CTVT.

"We just hope constantly that we're going to get a call that they found some kind of dog", Perri said of ongoing excavations.

A dog buried almost 10,000 years ago in western IL, at what is known as the Koster site.

"Few modern dogs have any trace of these ancient lineages", said Witt, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Merced. The results showed a strong link between the earliest North American dogs and Siberian dog lineages. Though more research is needed to confirm the hypothesis, "such a scenario is entirely plausible", he said.

The oldest ancient American dog was found in Koster, Illinois, and lived around 9,900 years ago. Rather, it appeared to be sort of like a dingo.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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