Dogs have shared a history with humans since we first domesticated the animals nearly 30,000 years ago. And now, a bone fragment from a 10,000 year old domesticated dog may confirm the theory that early humans migrated to America through the Northwest Pacific coastal route with a little help from man’s best friend.
While sequencing the DNA of bones found in Alaska, a team of researchers from the University of Buffalo stumbled upon a bone fragment from a domesticated dog. This bone fragment, which scientists say is part of a canine’s femur, is about 10,150 years old. It is the oldest sample of a domesticated dog found in America to date.
Domesticated dogs don’t travel without human companions, so scientists from the University of Buffalo theorize that this dog (or its forebears) traveled to North America with the first wave of human settlers. Previous evidence (or a lack thereof) suggested that dogs came to America a few thousand years later through the central continental corridor route.
Further research into this early dog DNA could help us understand early human migration into the American continents, or even uncover genetic connections between Eurasian and American breeds of domesticated canine. The discovery can also bring us closer to early humans at an emotional level—someone owned and took care of this dog 10,000 years before we were born, and they likely experienced the same ups and downs of today’s dog owners.