In the recent study made by the University of Illinois scientists’ on the carcasses of ancient dogs from North and South America, they found out that the arrival of dogs in the American continents may have been much later than what was previously believed. That’s 10,000 years to be exact.
The research also revealed that man arrived in the same continents much later and they took the route using the once existing Bearing land bridges. The result of this in depth study, according to the researchers, will help a lot in in their pursuit to get a clearer picture on the ways how man has managed to travel from one place to another.
“Dogs are one of the earliest organisms to have migrated with humans to every continent,” notes lead researcher, Kelsey Witt. “I think that says a lot about the relationship dogs have had with humans. They can be a powerful tool when you’re looking at how human populations have moved around over time.”
By analyzing the mitochondrial DNA of the ancient dogs the scientists were able to arrive at their conclusions. Mitochondrial DNA is usually used to gather data for evolution. This might be the reason why the researchers used mtDNA, another name for Mitochondrial DNA, instead of the normal DNA. mtDNA is also very useful in identifying one species from another no matter how closely related they are. The mtDna is only inherited from maternal side.
Using the mtDNA allowed the scientists to trace the line of inheritance completely. The DNA specimens used in this research were supplied by Brian Kemp, a member of Washington State University research team, from remains found in Colorado and British Columbia.
Additional specimens were also provided by The Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), from the site near Cahokia. Incidentally Cahokia is believed to be North America’s first metropolitan city. The sample provided an invaluable insight to the research in studying the relationship of Cahokia’s inhabitants had with their dogs. The researchers found the carcasses buried alone or in pairs.
With all the information they were able to collect, the research team wasn’t able to make a definite conclusion as to when dogs were domesticated although evidence indicates this occurred in Europe, Asia and Africa before humans migrated using land bridges on their way to America.