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9,400-year-old Dog

January 20, 2011 by staff 

9,400-year-old Dog, (AP) – Nearly 10,000 years, the best friend of man coverage and the company – and a casual meal.

That’s what researchers say after finding a bone fragment of what they call the dog-confirmed earlier home in the Americas.

University of Maine graduate student Samuel Belknap III came across a fragment, whileanlyzing a sample of dried human waste unearthed in southwestern Texas in the 1970s. A test of carbon-to-date set of bone age to 9,400 years, and a DNA test confirmed he had a dog – not a wolf, coyote or fox, Belknap said.

As it was found at the bottom of a pile of human excrement and characteristic orange-brown color that turns bones when he crossed the gut, the fragment provides the first direct evidence that the dogs – in addition to being used for the society, security and hunting – were eaten by humans and may even have been raised as a food source, “he said.

Belknap was not looking for dogs when he found the bone. Instead, he was looking in the diet and nutrition for people living in the Lower Pecos region of Texas between 1,000 and 10,000 years.

“There is this person who lived 9,400 years ago was eating dog,” said Belknap.

Belknap and other researchers at the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma molecular anthropology lab, where DNAanlysis was done, wrote a paper on their findings.

The document has been scientifically reviewed and accepted, pending revision, for publication in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology later this year, said editor Christopher Ruff. He declined to comment on the article until it has been published.

Dogs have played an important role in human culture for thousands of years.

There is archaeological evidence dating back 31,000 years dogs from a site in Belgium, the Czech Republic in 26,000 years and 15,000 years in Siberia, said Robert Wayne, a professor of evolutionary biology at UCLA and an expert on dog evolution. But the records in the New World canine are not as detailed or go back that far.

For his research, Belknap – who do not have a dog himself – had stool samples sent to him that had been unearthed in 1974 and 1975 from an archaeological site known as Hinds Cave and stored in the storage at Texas A & M. The fragment is about six-tenths of an inch long and three to four tenths of an inch wide, about the size of a fingernail on the little finger of one person.

He and a fellow identified as a fragment of bone where the skull connects with the spine. He said he had a dog that probably resembled the small, short-nosed, shorthaired mongrels that were common among the Indians of the Great Plains.

Judging by the size of the bone, the dog figures Belknap weighed about 25-30 pounds. He also found what he believes to have been a bone of a dog walk, but the fragment was too small to beanlyzed.

Further archaeological excavations have brought the dogs in the United States dating back 8000 years or more, but this is the first time it has been scientifically proven that dogs have been here as far back, “he said.

Darcy Morey, a member of the faculty at Radford University who has studied the evolution of dogs for decades, according to 1980′s dated a dog found at Danger Cave in Utah, between 9000 and 10,000 years. These dates were based not on carbon or updated DNA testing, but on ananlysis of surrounding rock layers.

“So 9400 years old may be the oldest, but perhaps not,” Morey said in e-mail.

Morey, whose 2010 book, “Dogs: The domestication and development of a social bond,” traces the evolution of dogs, said he was skeptical about the DNA tests on a single bone fragment because dogs and wolves are so similar genetically.

Belknap said there might be older dogs in North America, but the earliest date that it is directly aware. For many years, researchers thought the dog bones from archaeological sites in Idaho were 11,000 years, but additional tests put their ages at between 1,000 and 3,000 years, “he said.

“One thing that we discovered is there to show that we can use these techniques and learn more about dogs in the New World, if we apply these tests to all these samples at the beginning,” he said.

The first dogs in North America are believed to have come with the first settlers through the Bering isthmus from Asia to the Americas 10,000 years ago or earlier, “said Wayne, who has not seen Search Belknap.

It is not surprising that dogs have been Belknap a food source for humans.

Many people in Central America regularly ate dogs, he said. Across the Great Plains, some Indian tribes have eaten the dogs when food was scarce or celebrations, “he said.

“It was certainly an accepted practice in many populations,” he said.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A skeleton of a dog 9400 years was found in Texas.

The researchers say they found a bone fragment of the oldest domesticated dogs confirmed in the Americas.

University of Maine graduate student Samuel Belknap III found the fragment, whileanlyzing a piece of dried waste uncovered in southern Texas in the 1970s.

DNAanlysis confirmed the bone was from a dog and carbon-to-date set around 9400 years of age.

The bone fragment was found at the bottom a lot of human excrement and has a characteristic orange-brown color that would mean he passed through the digestive tract.

“There is this person who lived 9,400 years ago was eating dog,” said Belknap.

The dogs may have been high for comfort, safety and food at the time, the researchers said.

The first dogs in North America are believed to have come with the first settlers through the Bering isthmus from Asia to the Americas 10,000 years ago or earlier, researchers say.

Source: http://www.thirdage.com/news/9400-year-old-dog-found-earliest-americas_1-20-2011

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