Dog Skull 33000 Years

January 25, 2012 by staff 

Dog Skull 33000 YearsDog Skull 33000 Years, Dogs have been “man’s best friend” longer than any other animal. And, as it turns out, longer than previously thought. A pair of research papers published in the past few years, one most recently by a team that includes the University of Arizona, significantly pushes back the timeline for domestication of dogs from about 14,000 years ago to more than 30,000 years ago.

Researchers at UA and universities in England and the Netherlands used radiocarbon dating to determine that the skull of a Siberian dog was about 33,000 years old. Slightly older dog remains were identified in Belgium a few years ago by a separate research team.

The two findings indicate the process of domestication was occurring in separate regions at a time when early humans, including Neanderthals, in Europe and Siberia were small-group hunter-gatherers. About 14,000 years ago, Neanderthals were gone and humans were more mobile, living and hunting in larger groups.

The latest study’s co-author, UA professor Gregory Hodgins, said the finding broadens the timeline of humans interacting with the natural world. While humans have depended on animals since the dawn of the human species, domestication of animals indicates a symbiotic relationship between the two.

“It suggests living in close quarters and some sort of emotional bond,” he said.

Scientists believe dogs are the oldest domesticated animal and descended from wolves.

To determine whether dogs were domesticated, researchers look for physical traits, such as shorter snouts, wider jaws and crowded teeth. Scientists theorize that humans perhaps showed a preference for wolves that were more social and looked less threatening. Over time, those behavioral and physical traits became more prevalent.

Before the most recent discoveries in Siberia and Belgium, the first signs of dog domestication appeared about 14,000 years ago. At some point, humans began relying on dogs for things like protection, hunting and companionship.

Dogs allowed humans to become a different, more effective predator, said Michael Barton, an Arizona State University anthropology professor who was not a co-author of either recent study. A dog’s keen sense of smell allowed humans to track animals better.

“They give us an edge,” he said.

Researchers don’t believe the Siberian or Belgian dogs are direct ancestors to today’s modern dogs. It’s likely these early lineages didn’t survive a period when the Earth’s ice sheets were at their thickest about 20,000 years ago.

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