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[Articles & News] Possibly 20,000-year-old Domesticated Dog Emerges From Italian Cave

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Post time: 13-9-2020 12:14:54
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The remains of an ancient domesticateddog that spent its life with humans has been unearthed in an Italian cave . Believe it or not, thisancient domesticated dog is now considered to be Europe's earliest pet dog , and it might 20,000 years old!
HowWolves Became Wolf-like And, Then, Our Early Friends
The early ancestors of graywolves ( Canis lupus ) were a group of carnivores,named the creodonts, thatroamed the northern hemisphere between 100 and 120 million years ago. About 55million years ago this ancient species gave rise to the carnassials, agroup of wolf-like animals that had specialized jaws and razor-sharp teeth fortearing and eating meat. One member of this family, Miacis, isthought to be the common ancestor of all present-day wolves, bears, raccoons,weasels, and dogs.
Researchers hope this incredible discovery in Italy will providenew information on “how and when” dogs diverged from wolves and became domesticated human pets . Dr Francesco Boschinheads the team of archaeologists from the University of Siena in Italy thatpublished the study on the Italian canid and wolf remains found in the caves. Accordingto an article in Scientific Reports hestated might be the “oldest ever remains of a domesticated pet dog” found inEurope. The animal remains are expected to be somewhere between 14,000 and20,000 years old. This was a time when humans and canines first began amutually beneficial relationship that eventually made dogs our “best friends.”
Solving The Hows And Whys OfEarly Canine Domestication
For millions of years humans and wild wolves shared the samehunting landscapes. While it is unknown exactly when domestic dogs ( Canisfamiliaris ) evolved from the gray wolves, we do have some importantscientific clues.
A 2009 study published in the Molecular Biology and Evolution journalcites an analysis of ancient dog mitochondrialDNA that suggests they evolved alongside wolves “over 100,000 yearsago.” Thus, many experts believe canines began scavenging due to a lack of food, and thathumans slowly developed a bond with these animals that also acted as earlywarning alarms if larger creatures approached a campsite or entered a cave.Some scientists believe wolves and early humans hunted together and this is howthe relationship was formed.
The lateststudy by Dr Boshin and his team focused on bone fragments from ancient caninesand wolves found at two paleolithic caves in southern Italy, the PaglicciCave and the Romanelli Cave. These ancient animals,according to the research, are “the first dogs to live alongside humans as apet.” Furthermore, according to an article in the Daily Mail , the ancient canine-human connection offers a definitiveanswer to the long outstanding question of how and when dogs first became pets.
The Transition From Man EaterTo Man’s Best Friend
Dr Francesco Boschin said his team combined molecular andmorphological analyses of the fossil animal remains found in the Italian caves.He said the results “attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibratedyears before present,” representing one of the “earliest occurrence ofdomesticates in the Upper Paleolithic of Europe and in the Mediterranean.”However, Dr Boschin added that further analysis suggests this date could becloser “to 20,000 years” ago, or roughly 12,000 BC. Either way the cave canidremains provide exceptional evidence of the evolutionary process that wouldhave led to the first pet dogs.
The conclusions of the latest study fit perfectly with a 2011paper published in PLOS 1 that describes the well-preserved remains of “adog-like canid” discovered in the Razboinichya Cave in the Altai Mountains ofsouthern Siberia. These remains included the animal’s skull, both jaws andteeth. A comparison with wild wolves, modern wolves, prehistoric domesticateddogs, and early dog-like canids, revealed the Razboinichya canine was “mostsimilar to fully domesticated dogs from Greenland about 1000 years old,” but itwas scientifically dated to be 33,000 years old. This proves “dog domesticationwas multiregional.” However, the Razboinichya canid was an early incipient dograther than the oldest ancestor of modern dogs.
TheEvolution Of Wild Canines That Became Our Best Friends
Wolves were first attracted to permanent or semi-permanent humansettlements in the Paleolithic period. The new paper shows that by 14,000 BP(12,000 BC) dogs had become a consistent part of human settlements. Accordingto a 1995 paper by Dr J. Clutton-Brock, The Domestic Dog: ItsEvolution, Behaviour and Interaction with People, “ soon after12,000 BC, dog remains appear in human graves.” Therefore, these animals became“our best friends” by the time of the NeolithicRevolution .
Around thistime, not having the same sharp teeth, tearing jaws or speed as dogs, humanswere isolated and vulnerable. They seem to have “adopted” the canids thathelped protect emerging hunting stations and year-round settlements. Theseancient canines must have acted as early warning alarm systems, and, in timesof famine, they could have been a food source, or a source of food through theanimals they killed and brought back to human settlement areas. This ancientunion of man and dog led to the oldest and most effective hunter-killer team onearth. In return, dogs got companionship, protection, shelter, and a morestable or diversified food source.
By:  Ashley Cowie
LINK: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/ancient-domesticated-dog-0014242

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