As a dog lover, I have a fascination with the history of canines and love learning about new archeological finds that tell us more about how domesticated dogs came to be. While some breeds are new, having been recently created by man-influenced breeding of specific dog breeds, some evolved quite naturally on their own. We’ve learned about ancient texts and pictures that tell the story of domestic dogs in antiquity but we still don’t have the complete picture, and perhaps never will. We go on what has been discovered and what we believe to be true about the historical records that have been preserved to make our educated guesses. How much do we really know about the history of domestic dogs and is our information correct? A recent archaeological find suggests there is a lot more to learn.
Oldest dog remains in Americas discovered in Alaska
According to National Geographic, we’re still learning more about the history of canines in the North American continent. We knew that domestic dogs have been n North American for over 10,000 years. The new find is extremely similar in their physical makeup to Siberian and Greenlandic sled dogs, Huskies, and Malamutes. When training the history of ancient man, a shard of bone was proven to be the canine companion of an ancient human in migration to the Americas. The bone shard was discovered decades ago and believed to belong to a bear of some type, but genetic testing has revealed that the classified bone fragment was actually that of a canine. It is believed that the dog was a companion to humans during a migration event. Scientists have dated it back in time to approximately 10,150 years ago.
The significance of this find
The discovery has a lot of implications for historians. It tells us a few things about the humans who migrated to the Americas and the companions they walked with. It appears that canines at a minimum walked with humans in their journey to a new land. It’s entirely likely that more than 10,000 years ago man and dog had formed a connection and bond. Although there is no way to prove precisely what the relationship looked like, it’s a start that opens up a whole new way of seeing ancient men and their fondness of animals for purposes other than food sources.
We’re starting to put the puzzle pieces in place
Because of carbon dating technology, we’re better able to guess the approximate age of these archaeological discoveries, and it’s just one more clue to help solve the mysteries and answer the questions in our minds. The latest find is the oldest known evidence of mankind journeying with a dog by his side. This supersedes Illinois find that harbored multiple burial sites for dogs that lived in the area around 9,910 years ago.
Generation of more questions
The information that we currently possess doesn’t tell us when the first domestic dog first came to North America. It lets us know how far back we can prove they were here, but these were not likely the first. They’re just the ones that we know about. The dogs are genetically similar but they were found a long distance apart, suggesting that they’re likely not related. Experts in the research and analysis of this new information are convinced that domestic dogs were here much earlier, but it doesn’t tell us how much earlier.
What the genetics tell us
The genetic analysis of the bone fragment found tells us that the dog likely was a direct relative of cousins to a Siberian breed. It is further believed that the earliest dog of this strain was likely to have been around 16,700 years in the past. This follows with the known history of the first human migrations that took place through known migration routes. Other researchers theorize that dogs evolved from grey wolves that were known to exist between 40,000 to 19,000 years ago, gradually becoming domesticated by humans.
Will we ever have the whole picture?
Historians don’t all agree about when the first domestic dog appeared in North America, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Each new discovery made provides us with more clues to the possibilities and it helps to fill in a sketchy timeline for migration of humans and their domesticated dog companions, but there is still a lot that is unknown. We rely on finding clues in ancient remains but the discoveries are few and far between. We may never have the full story or understand when the first domesticated dog appeared in North America, but it doesn’t stop us from continuing to ask the questions and search for the answers. We await the discovery of more clues to help complete the timeline of the relationship that developed between canines and humans.
The most recent discovery of animal remains is an exciting clue about the timeline for the domestication of dogs in North America. Historians and researchers work hard to answer our questions about our beloved canine house pets. While we only have a few pieces of a massive jigsaw puzzle of clues about the origin of dog domestication, each new clue helps us to understand a little more about our ancestors and when they first discovered the value of owning a dog. Although much of what is known is based on analysis of the evidence and assumptions based on clues, it’s nice to let our minds wander and imagine what it might have been like when man and dog first joined forces to develop a mutual relationship that benefited both parties. In all likelihood, this was a gradual process that evolved over time. We value our furry friends as companions, to help guard our properties, our business, to help us keep law and order, to provide emotional therapy, to help the blind find their way, and many other essential jobs. They’ve become an integral part of our existence and many of us couldn’t imagine life without a dog.