Scientists have recently been able to trace back man’s best friend’s family tree to two million years! An extremely well preserved fossil was found in Europe is providing more insight into dogs and wolves ancestors. The find has been given the name Canis etruscus and is the oldest fossil in this genus.
This species was smaller than the common wolf, and was likely a social animal that hunted in packs and preyed on smaller animals like deers and pigs. Although this prehistoric pooch didn’t mingle with us humans, researches believe it to be the ancestor of Canis mosbachensis, a direct ancestor of modern day wolves.
It was theorised that the grey wolf was the ancestor of all dogs and wolves, but this has being debated after a new study was released earlier this year: “The common ancestor of dogs and wolves was a large, wolf-like animal that lived between 9000 and 34,000 years ago,” says Robert Wayne of University of California, who was co-author of the study. This species is still unknown and went extinct thousands of years ago.
Dogs or wolves were used for hunting and security by our species, and they soon formed a bond, sort of a like a ‘I scratch your back, you feed me leftovers’ kind of relationship.
Canines have been traced from Europe to Asia, and it was in Europe some 780,000 years ago, that a canine and one of our species crossed paths, and I for one am thankful for that, because look at this face!