Science

4 studies reveal how long dogs have been man’s best friend

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Dogs have long been known as man’s best friend, but it’s not clear exactly when the relationship began.

Recent research suggests dogs and humans may have a longer history than previously thought.

Here are 4 compelling discoveries:

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1. Humans may have started breeding dogs in the Stone Age

Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute found a common ancestor of modern dogs in one species of now-extinct wolf.

By 11,000 years ago, dogs split into five distinct lineages found in different parts of the world, reflecting humans’ migration patterns and diets.

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For that to happen, dog domestication must have started much earlier, even before agriculture.

2. Dogs may have been in the Americas 15,000 years ago

Ettore Mazza

Recent research from Durham University suggests people likely brought dogs to the Americas 15,000 years ago.

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Scientists traced the lineage of these dogs to Siberia, their line beginning more than 23,000 years ago.

3. Dogs were ancient pets

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Another team dated dog fossils found in Illinois at 10,000 years old, making them the oldest such fossils in America.

Analysis of the bones indicates the dogs died of natural causes and were buried intentionally, suggesting they were pets.

4. People were showing off their dogs 8,000 years ago

Social media is packed with pictures of dogs — a phenomenon seemingly with ancient roots.

The oldest dog images on record are from around 8,000 years ago, engraved in stone found on the Arabian Peninsula by researchers from the Max Planck Institute.

The carvings show dogs hunting and herding with humans, and some are wearing leashes. That means dogs and humans were close partners at least that long ago.

Read more animal stories here.

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