Best friends for 30,000 years

Science tells us what dog owners had already guessed: Man and dog have been each other’s BFFs for a LONG time:

Dogs were man’s best friend as far back as the Ice Age, claim scientists.

A new study has shown that dogs and humans first bonded between 19,000 and 30,000 years ago.

That was when wolves, ancestors of domestic dogs living today, were first tamed by ancient hunter gatherers, according to genetic evidence.

Early tamed wolves may have been trained as hunting dogs or even protected their human masters from predators.

The findings challenge a previous theory that dog domestication happened some 15,000 years ago in eastern Asia, after the introduction of agriculture.

In reality, the history of the bond between dog and man appears to go back much further, to a time when fur-clad humans were living in caves and hunting woolly mammoths.

Scientists used DNA analysis to establish what populations of wolves were most related to living dogs.

The history of the bond between dog and man appears to go back much further, to a time when fur-clad humans were living in caves and hunting woolly mammoths

DNA from domestic dogs most closely matched that extracted from the fossil bones of ancient European Ice Age wolves, as well as modern wolves.

There was little similarity with DNA from wolves, coyotes and dingos from other parts of the world.

The Finnish and German team wrote in the journal Science: ‘Conceivably, proto-dogs might have taken advantage of carcasses left on site by early hunters, assisted in the capture of prey, or provided defence from large competing predators at kills.’

Dog domestication of a ‘large and dangerous carnivore’ was likely to have occurred partly by accident, possibly after wolves were attracted to hunter camp sites by the smell of fresh meat.

The research contradicts earlier studies which suggested that early farming brought wolves sniffing around villages, leading to them forming relationships with humans.

‘Dogs were our companions long before we kept goats, sheep or cattle,’ said Professor Johannes Krause, one of the researchers from Tubingen University in Germany.

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