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Ancient Dog Skull Shows Early Pet Domestication

Our bond runs deeper than originally thought. DNA from fossil indicates dogs were domesticated 33,000 years ago

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Photo Courtesy Plos One

Recent research published in the journal Plos One has found dogs were domesticated even sooner than originally thought—over 20,000 years earlier. New analysis of a fossilized canine tooth found in the Altai mountains of Siberia, Russia in 1975 has confirmed that the 33,000 year old tooth belonged to one of the oldest known ancestors of the modern domesticated dog.

A team of scientists led by Dr. Anna Druzhkova from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences found that the “Altai dog” fossil, named for the mountains in which it was unearthed, is more closely related to modern dogs than wolves. This exciting research not only indicates dogs were domesticated far earlier than previously thought, but is also leading scientists interested in the domestication of dogs to explore areas outside the Middle East or East Asia, previously thought to be the centers where dogs originated.

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