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New study shows Siberians kept pet dogs 33,000 years ago

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07 March 2013


The fossil is revealed as belonging to one of the oldest known ancestors of modern dogs. Picture: N. Martynovich

Scientists from Novosibirsk conclude that the fossil - named 'Altai dog' - belonged to one of the oldest known ancestors of the modern dog. The creature is closely related to domestic dogs than extant wolves. 

The research was published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Anna Druzhkova, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Novosibirsk, and other colleagues. 

Experts are still unclear when the separation of dogs from wolves occurred but the results are intriguing since they appear to show a domesticated dog in a region where they were not previously known at such an early period.

'These results suggest a more ancient history of the dog outside the Middle East or East Asia, previously thought to be the centres where dogs originated,' say the researchers. 

The fossil is revealed as belonging to one of the oldest known ancestors of modern dogs. 

The such fossils in the world are 36,000 years old but the earliest man buried with a dog is from 14,000 years ago.

Sceptics thought the Altai dog - found in Razboinichya Cave in 1975  - was a type of wolf but the new research seems to disprove this.  

Siberians kept pet dogs 33,000 years ago

Siberians kept pet dogs 33,000 years ago

Speleologists by the entrance of Razboinichya Cave in 1975 where the fossil (below) was found. Pictures: N. Martynovich, N. Ovodov

'Some theories claimed that wolves could sometimes produce dog-like forms that had no genetic relation to modern dogs. This research indicates such relation between the ancient Altai dog and younger American and modern dogs,' said study co-author Vladimir Trifonov.

The Altai Mountains in southern Siberia is also known as home to a branch of hominids (humans) who were contemporaries of Neanderthals and of Homo Sapiens (modern humans).

They were descended from Hominids who migrated out of Africa earlier than the Neanderthals and modern humans, it is believed.

Denisova hominin, dating to 40,000 years ago, was discovered in the Denisova Cave in Altai in 2008. Knowledge of the Denisovan humans derives primarily from DNA evidence and artifacts, as no complete skeletons have yet been recovered. DNA evidence has been unusually well preserved because of the low average temperature in the Denisova caves.

'The Altai Mountains have been identified as being the point of origin of a cultural enigma termed the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon which arose during the Bronze Age around the start of the 2nd millennium BC and led to a rapid and massive migration of peoples from the region into distant parts of Europe and Asia,' state the scientists.

Comments (4)

I had absolutely no idea that there was so much happening in Siberia. I love this site. Great science writeups. So happy I found it.
Robin, California
18/10/2014 07:42
this is absolutely fascinating! what in the world does it mean to say that "...wolves could sometimes produce dog-like forms that had no genetic relationship to dogs..." can anyone explain what this means scientifically? since the above comments are from march 2013, what has happened since? hello?????
georgia gillespie, syracuse, new york, USA
01/06/2013 05:39
@Thor you wouldn't believe but Siberia is huge and there are lots of things happening there as well as in the rest of the world. It's just that Siberia is underreported.
Kate, Russia
09/03/2013 14:54
it feels like everything interesting is happening in Siberia - meteorites, ancient dogs, what else will you come up with next))?
Thor, Norway
08/03/2013 00:06

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