Siberia: Barking up the wrong family tree

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A 33,000-year-old canine skull is challenging accepted theories on dog domestication. Rather than being descended from a single ancestry, it appears dogs were becoming man’s best friend in different parts of the world, and at different times.

The remains were discovered in the Altai Mountains in Siberia by a team led by Nikolai Ovodov, of the Russian Academy of Sciences. By comparing features such as tooth-size and snout-width with measurements taken from prehistoric and modern dogs and wolves, researchers established that the skull probably came from a canine in the very early stages of domestication. Susan Crockford, evolutionary biologist at the University of Victoria and co-author of the study, said: ‘It was not a dog yet, but may have been eventually if conditions had continued.’

This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 52. Click here to subscribe

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