The first Siberian explorers crossed the Bering Sea with canine companions

For decades, archaeologists generally agreed that the first humans in the Americas were the Clovis people, who left North Asia and reached the Alaska region around 13,000 years ago. However, archaeologists have now established that humans reached the Americas thousands of years ago. And now, a new article on the origins of dog domestication suggests that ancient Siberians arrived in North America with their canine companions, who were already companion dogs at the time.

How canine companions developed 15,000 to 23,000 years ago

An international team of researchers led by archaeologist Dr Angela Perri from Durham University , in England, conducted an archaeological and genetic study of ancient people and their dogs. The conclusion of his research team is that the first people to settle in the Americas, who were of Northeast Asian descent, most likely brought canine companions with them some time ago. 15,000 years ago ”. In addition, the researchers discovered that the domestication of dogs must have taken place in what is now Siberia as early as “23,000 years ago”.

Dr Angela Perri of the Department of Archeology at Durham University is the lead author of the new article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). She said her team explored the “how and why” of canine companions, which she says are issues too often overlooked.

The co-author of the article, Laurent Frantz, is a geneticist at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and he says that the new research on the genetic signatures of ancient dogs determines that “the domestication of dogs did not take place in Americas “. Instead, it happened in Siberia long before people started migrating west to the Americas.

Primitive man taming a wolf. ( crimson / Adobe Stock)

The development of canine companions as hunting tools

23,000 to 19,000 years ago, a period known as the last glacial maximum, the Beringia region between Canada, Russia and Siberia was becoming ice-free, but it was still unusually cold and dry. The article suggests that it was around this time that wolf and human populations began to hunt for the same prey. Evidence suggests an increased interaction of the hunt “through the mutual hunting of victims of wolves attracted to human encampments,” sparked the interspecies relationship that would see the two creatures populate the Americas much sooner than previously thought. previously.

In one Eureka Alert release, archaeologist David Meltzer of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, co-author of the new study, says dogs must have accompanied the first human explorers in the “New World.”

Razboinichya cave canine skull found in the Altai Mountains at the southern end of Siberia.  Age: 33,500 years old.  (Nikolai D. Ovodov1, Susan J. Crockford2, Yaroslav V. Kuzmin3 *, Thomas FG Higham4, Gregory WL Hodgins5, Johannes van der Plicht6,7 / CC BY 2.5)

Razboinichya cave canine skull found in the Altai Mountains at the southern end of Siberia. Age: 33,500 years old. (Nikolai D. Ovodov1, Susan J. Crockford2, Yaroslav V. Kuzmin3 *, Thomas FG Higham4, Gregory WL Hodgins5, Johannes van der Plicht6,7 / CC BY 2.5 )

Plus, canine companions may have been as important to these early hunters “as the stone tools they carried,” Meltzer said. Over the next 20,000 years, dogs simply adapted to new human environments, eventually shifting from their roles as guards around campfires to curled up pets asleep at our feet in front of our fireplaces.

Polychrome painting of a wolf in the cave of Font-de-Gaume in France dated to around 25,000 BC.  (drawing by Henri Breuil, edited by Henry Fairfield Osborn / Public domain)

Polychrome painting of a wolf from the Font-de-Gaume cave in France dated to around 25,000 BC. (drawing by Henri Breuil, edited by Henry Fairfield Osborn / Public domain )

Decipher the canine code

This new canine research comes just 3 months after I wrote a Ancient origins newspaper article on the remains of a 20,000-year-old domesticated dog that was unearthed by archaeologists in an Italian cave, considered to be “Europe’s first companion dog”. This earlier study showed how the ancestors of gray wolves ( Canis lupus ), known to science as creodonts, roamed the northern hemisphere between 100 and 120 million years ago. About 55 million years ago, “predators” emerged from creodonts. And out of them came an animal more like a wolf with razor sharp teeth for tearing and eating meat, known as ” Miacis», The common ancestor of all wolves, bears, raccoons, weasels and dogs today.

According to Scientific reports , in the 2020 canine study, Dr Francesco Boschin of the Italian University of Siena attempted to answer the “how and when” regarding the divergence between dogs and wolves, and their becoming hunting companions and animals of company.

Today, Dr Angela Perri and her team at Durham University questioned the “how and why” of dog company. And what emerges from this two-pronged scientific investigation into the mysteries of canine evolution is that these two modern studies suggest that the process of domestication of dogs, from wolves, occurred about 23,000 years old.

Since then, our canine companions have helped in the survival and development of human societies and cultures around the world.

Top image: The first settlers of the Americas and their canine companions. Source: Ettore Mazza

By Ashley Cowie


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