North America’s earliest dogs came from Siberia


LOST DOGS  An ancient DNA study indicates that people brought dogs to North America at least 10,000 years ago. Modern American dogs share little ancestry with these ancient fidos, researchers say.  


North America’s first dogs arrived with humans who crossed a land bridge from Northeast Asia around 10,000 years ago or earlier, an analysis of ancient dogs’ DNA suggests.

Those early American dogs derived from a Siberian ancestor, not North American wolves as some researchers have presumed, an international team reports in the July 6 Science. Genetic traces of ancient American dogs have nearly vanished from present-day pooches, possibly because European colonists selectively bred their own dogs starting around 500 years ago.

Researchers reached that conclusion based on analyses of 71 mitochondrial genomes and seven nuclear genomes of dogs excavated at ancient North American and Siberian sites. Those data were compared with DNA from modern dogs and wolves.

Read more about the origins of the New World’s first dogs.

Bruce Bower has written about the behavioral sciences for Science News since 1984. He writes about psychology, anthropology, archaeology and mental health issues.

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