By Becky Oskin
Humans and dogs were constant companions well before our ancestors settled in villages and started growing crops 10,000 years ago, a new study suggests.
Genetic evidence from an ancient wolf bone discovered lying on the tundra in Siberia’s Taimyr Peninsula reveals that wolves and dogs split from their common ancestor at least 27,000 years ago. “Although separation isn’t the same as domestication, this opens up the possibility that domestication occurred much earlier than we thought before,” said lead study author Pontus Skoglund, who studies ancient DNA at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute in Massachusetts. Previously, scientists had pegged the wolf-dog split at no earlier than 16,000 years ago.
Although the prehistoric wolf went extinct, its genetic legacy lives on in Arctic sled dogs, the team discovered. “Siberian huskies have a portion of their genome that traces back exclusively to this ancient Siberian wolf,” Skoglund told Live Science. “It’s pretty amazing that there is a special genetic connection to a wolf that roamed the tundra 35,000 years ago.”
Greenland dogs also carry some of this ancient wolf DNA, as do the Chinese Shar-Pei and the Finnish spitz, the study authors reported. The researchers plan to study what the genes do, as their role is not yet known, Skoglund said.
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.