This tiny bone fragment holds clues to dog’s history

Douglas Levere/University of Buffalo

A tiny bone fragment provides the clues

The history of dogs living with humans has been intertwined for thousands of years. Now a study proves how and when dogs arrived in the Americas.

This tiny bone fragment—less than 1 cm—found in Southeast Alaska, provides genetic evidence that a dog lived in the region about 10,150 years ago. Scientists say the remains—a piece of a femur—represent the oldest confirmed remains of a domestic dog in the Americas.

Researchers analyzed the dog’s mitochondrial genome, and concluded that the animal belonged to a lineage of dogs whose evolutionary history diverged from that of Siberian dogs as early as 16,700 years ago. The timing of that split coincides with a period when humans may have been migrating into North America along a coastal route that included Southeast Alaska.

Source: Science Today

map of route dogs took to Americas

Route dogs took to Americas

Bob Wilder / University at Buffalo