Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Man's best friend for 30,000 years: Canine skulls discovered in two separate digs reveals historic relationship

-Teeth and jaws show animal was domesticated
-One of the oldest domesticated dogs ever found
-Hints that man may have domesticated dogs in several places - all dogs aren't evolved from one ancestor


The Altai skull was particularly well preserved, and allowed researchers to measure its teeth, jaws and snout for evidence it was domesticated

Dogs have been a loyal companion to mankind for more than 30,000 years, findings reveal. Scientists believe that two 33,000-year-old skulls unearthed in digs in Siberia and Belgium show dogs were domesticated long before any other animal, such as sheep, cows or goats.
Researchers from the University of Arizona said the skulls had shorter snouts and wider jaws than undomesticated animals such as wolves, which use their longer snouts and narrower jaws to help them hunt.
That suggested the dogs had been kept for protection and companionship by our ancient ancestors – just as they are today.

Recent DNA research hinted that all dogs came from a single wolf-like ancestor - but the Altai find may prove that isn't so

The researchers think dogs could have been the first species of animals to be domesticated by humans, long before farm animals were bred for their meat and skins.
This offers a possible explanation for why breeds such as pugs and huskies look so different, despite being the same species.

The scientists used carbon dating to determine the age of the two skulls, then looked at the bone structures and concluded that claims the dogs had been domesticated were ‘pretty solid’.
Study author Dr Greg Hodgins, whose findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE, said: ‘Both the Belgian find and the Siberian find are domesticated species based on morphological [structural] characteristics.
‘Essentially, wolves have long thin snouts and their teeth are not crowded, and domestication results in this shortening of the snout and widening of the jaws and crowding of the teeth.

source: dailymail

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