33000-year-old skull may be of oldest ancestor of dogs
Washington: Analysis of DNA extracted from a fossil tooth found in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia in 1975 has confirmed that the tooth belonged to one of the oldest known ancestors of the modern domesticated dog, researchers say.
Human domestication of dogs predates the beginning of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, but when modern dogs emerged as a species distinct from wolves is still unclear.
In the new research, Anna Druzhkova from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Russian Federation, and colleagues from other institutions evaluated the relationship of a 33,000 year old Siberian fossil to modern dogs and wolves based on DNA sequence.
The researchers found that this fossil, named the `Altai dog` after the mountains where it was recovered, is more closely related to modern dogs and prehistoric canids found on the American continents than it is to wolves.
They add, "These results suggest a more ancient history of the dog outside the Middle East or East Asia, previously thought to be the centers where dogs originated."
The study was recently published in the open access journal PLOS ONE.
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