Early North American settlers brought dogs more than 10,000 year ago

dog fossils found at two burial sites in illinois show that the domesticated pups lived years
Image credit: Jason Herrmann

A trio of dogs buried at two ancient human sites in Illinois lived around 10,000 years ago, making them the oldest known domesticated canines in the Americas.

Radiocarbon dating of the dogs’ bones shows they were 1,500 years older than thought, zooarchaeologist Angela Perri said April 13 at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The previous age estimate was based on a radiocarbon analysis of burned wood found in one of the animals’ graves.

An absence of stone tool incisions on the three ancient dogs’ skeletons indicates that they were not killed by people, but died of natural causes before being buried, Perri said. Some researchers have proposed that whoever made the first excursions into the Americas arrived on dog-powered sleds.

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But no dog remains have been found in northwestern North America, where the earliest settlers crossing a land bridge from Asia would have entered the New World. Either those people had no dogs, or they and their furry companions stayed on the land bridge.

Genetic evidence has suggested a second human migration from Asia to North America occurred around 11,500 years ago, with people trekking south through an ice-free corridor into the northern Great Plains. Those people likely brought dogs to the Americas, Perri proposed.

Read full, original post: Dogs lived and died with humans 10,000 years ago in the Americas

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