An entire line of ancient America dogs vanished mysteriously

09 July, 2018, 15:24 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Timeline of the arrival of native North American dogs across the Americas

The team sequenced 71 mitochondrial and seven nuclear genomes from ancient North American and Siberian dogs from time frames spanning 9,000 years.

Co-author and zooarchaeologist Professor Keith Dobney from the University of Liverpool, who co-directs the dog domestication project with Professor Larson added "This is yet another new and exciting finding from our combined genetic and archaeological research, which continues to challenge and illuminate our understanding of the history of the first and most iconic domestic animal".

"When we compare our ancient dog DNA to all other known dog/wolf DNA, we find that the closest relatives are the Siberian dogs".

Timeline of the arrival of native North American dogs across the Americas.

"This suggest something catastrophic must have happened, but we do not have the evidence to explain this sudden disappearance yet".

Karlsson said it is still possible that the genetic signature of ancient American dogs will be found in modern-day dogs, not to mention other surprises.

The first dogs in North America came from Siberia, new research proves. Afterward, the dogs dispersed across the Americas where they lived for 9,000 years, isolated from the world. Bizarrely, their nearly total disappearance means that the closest living relative of these bygone dogs is now CTVT, an opportunistic, sexually-transmitted dog cancer that has hitchhiked around the world at least two times over. The ancient dogs analyzed in the new study likely originated in Siberia, the researchers found.


The arrival of the first Europeans in the Americas in the 15th century didn't just affect the lives of native people already living here.

By far, the introduction of European dogs had the biggest impact.

It appears that native dog populations could have been wiped out through a number of causes, including disease, persecution and Europeans' desire to raise their own breeds. "There were millions and millions of dogs all over the continent (that) died out after the Europeans arrived". People bent on acquiring an ancient American breed, she said, should turn to malamutes or huskies, whose genes probably go back 1,000 years or so. And they also have no common ties with the North American wolf, suggesting they weren't tamed from the local canine population the proto-Americans encountered. It could also be that European dogs were just favoured for whatever reason.

Indeed, out of 5,000 samples of modern dog genes, only five had genes that belonged to ancient dogs, and in those five, the ancient genes made up less than 2 percent of their genomes, Perri said. Perri, referencing the animals' small, slender stature, tells Grimm that "it wouldn't be surprising if they were all used as hunting dogs".

Canine transmissible venereal tumors (CTVT) is a genital cancer that is spread between dogs during mating. It's not known when the dogs first arrived.

Comparison of ancient and modern American dog genomes, however, demonstrated that these pre-contact American dogs rapidly disappeared following the arrival of Europeans and left little to no trace in modern American dogs.

The 19th century American naturalist John James Audubon remarked, "The Indian dogs which I saw here so very closely resemble wild wolves, that I feel assured that if I was to meet with one of them in the woods, I should most assuredly kill it as such".

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