How an entire line of dogs in the Americas disappeared

How an entire line of dogs in the Americas disappeared

Senior lead author Dr Laurent Frantz from Queen Mary University and the Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network (Palaeo-BARN) at Oxford said: "It is fascinating that a population of dogs that inhabited many parts of the Americas for thousands of years, and that was an integral part of so many Native American cultures, could have disappeared so rapidly".

Dozens of researchers collaborated for the expansive study. These already domesticated dogs likely followed their human counterparts to this new land and all across the region.

Scientists sequenced the genomes of ancient dogs using both mitochondrial DNA genes inherited from both parents, and mitochondrial DNA, genes passed from mothers to their offspring.

The first humans to populate the Americas arrived from Siberia via the Bering land bridge around 16,000 years ago. That digging, much of it taking place in the area where humans first crossed over to the Americas, might also yield evidence for the presence of dogs before 10,000 years ago, she said.

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The new study dispelled a previous theory about the origin of dogs in the Americas, which posited that they evolved from domesticated wolves. The genetic information gathered from the remains of 71 ancient dog fossils recovered from Siberia and America revealed that early American dogs had similarities with their Siberian counterparts and likely shared ancestors in common. Unfortunately, this, coupled with other reasons including the fact that America's new settlers must have killed native dog populations, as well as their disinterest in breeding the original American dog populations, meant that the original American dogs slowly vanished completely from the Americas.

Once the domesticated Siberian dogs arrived in North America, they co-existed with the First Peoples for nearly 9,000 years before Europeans arrived. Finally, Europeans were probably being careful not to interbreed what they thought of as "prized" European dogs with "mongrel native" ones, she said.

It appears that native dog populations could have been wiped out through a number of causes, including disease, persecution and Europeans' desire to raise their own breeds. They likely came over in a wave of migration only about 1,000 years ago-roughly 500 years before the Europeans arrived-meaning that they are a little more closely related.

Findings were published Thursday in the journal Science.

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"The picture is not as clear as they want it to be", Peter Savolainen, an associate professor in Evolutionary Genetics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, told Gizmodo.

According to the Atlantic, the researchers found very faint hints of the indigenous DNA in some of the modern Arctic canines such as Alaskan huskies, Alaskan malamutes, and Greenland dogs. It also took a devastating toll on their pets.

"By looking at genomic data along with mitochondrial data, we were able to confirm that dogs came to the Americas with humans, and that almost all of that diversity was lost - most likely as a result of European colonization", coauthor Kelsey Witt, a graduate student who led the mitochondrial DNA testing, says in a press release from the University of IL.

"This study demonstrates that the history of humans is mirrored in our domestic animals". "Few modern dogs have any trace of these ancient lineages".

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But then, sometime after the 15th century, these ancient dogs disappeared.

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