An analysis into the genetic characteristics of 84 individual ancient dogs across America, has suggested that these canines moved across to the continent about 10,000 years ago.
Dogs have been linked with humans for approximately 11,000 – 16,000 years, providing safety and in return food and shelter. This new study suggests they moved across to the Americas later than their human friends did a few thousand years before.
The new study focused on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the dogs, which is the first ever done on such a large amount of remains. Researchers used bones from 42 pre-Columbian dogs from three separate sites, as well as sites in Colorado and British Columbia, with a large input from Illinois.
One of the biggest ancient dog burial sites is in the Janey B. Goode site in Illinois. Located near the ancient city of Cahokia inhabited over 1,000 years ago. Dog remains at these sites were ceremonially buried where some were burned, some buried back-to-back and others found among food deposits suggesting occasional consumption.
Researchers discovered four never-before-seen characteristics in the analysis, which suggested a greater diversity of ancient dogs in the Americas than previously theorised. Some samples even had links to American wolves, suggesting some were domesticated there or bred with ancient dogs.
For more info check out the Journal of Human Evolution