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Current Affairs

The first settlers of America

Date: 27 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Analyses of ancient dog DNA suggests dogs were domesticated from Eurasian wolves as far back as approximately 23,000 years ago. 

 

Background

While dogs are thought to have been the first domesticated animal, emerging during the Pleistocene from an extinct wolf population in Eurasia, much has remained unknown about them.

 

Details

  • Dogs spread alongside humans as they migrated throughout the world – including entering the Americas by the way of Beringia land bridge that once connected Russia and Canada.

  • From the genetic signatures of ancient dogs, researchers came to know that they must have been present somewhere in Siberia before people migrated to the Americas.

  • The researchers say the earliest generally accepted domestic dog remains in the archaeological record appeared about 15,000 years ago in Germany and other contemporaneous sites across Europe and in Israel.

  • Genetic evidence suggests the earliest known dog lineages predate the archaeological remains by several thousand years.

  • By comparing that population with successive lineages that split off from their common ancestor, the researchers constructed a timeline charting how dogs and their genes dispersed around the globe.

  • Ultimately, the analysis suggests human travellers likely brought their domesticated dogs with them as they journeyed into new lands, including the Americas.

 

Start of domestication

  • While the circumstances of dog domestication in Eurasia still aren't entirely clear, the researchers say that the extreme, unforgiving cold of the Last Glacial Maximum in Siberia may have triggered the early beginnings.

  • Climatic conditions may have brought human and wolf populations into close proximity within refugial areas, given their attraction to the same prey species.

  • Increasing interactions between the two, may have initiated a shift in the relationship between the species, eventually leading to dog domestication.