One of Europe’s oldest domestic dog, dating back 17,000 Years, has been determined
The bone belonging to a dog analyzed by the researchers belonged to a specimen that lived in the Paleolithic period 17,000 years ago.
An upper arm bone analyzed by the Basque Country University’s Human Evolutionary Biology team turned out to belong to a species that lived in the Paleolithic period 17,000 years ago.
The dog was the first species domesticated by humans, but the geographic and temporal origin of wolf domestication remains a matter of debate.
In 1985, an excavation led by Jesus Altuna at Erralla Cave in the town of Zestoa, in the Spanish province of Gipuzkoa, uncovered nearly an entire arm bone from the canine family, a carnivorous family that includes wolves, dogs, foxes, and jackals, among others. At the time, however, it was difficult to determine which canine species this bone belonged to.
“The type of dog was determined by the examinations made”
Now, the Human Evolutionary Biology team led by Professor Conchi de la Rúa at the University of the Basque Country has conducted an in-depth study of the bone remains. A morphological, radiometric and genetic analysis led to the genetic identification of the species as Canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog).
Direct dating via carbon-14 using particle accelerator mass spectrometry indicates that the bone dates from about 17,410-17,096 years ago. This means that the Erralla dog lived in Europe’s Magdalenian period, the latest phase of the Upper Paleolithic Age, making it one of the oldest domesticated dogs ever to exist in Europe.
The Erralla dog shares the same mitochondrial ancestry as the few Magdalenian dogs analyzed so far. The origin of this lineage is linked to a period of cold climate coinciding with the Last Glacial Maximum in Europe about 22,000 years ago.
These results suggest that domestication of wolves was earlier than what has been suggested so far – at least in the Western West, where interaction of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers with wild species such as wolves may have increased in glacial refuge areas (such as the Franco-Cantabrian) during this period of the climate crisis, said team leader Conchi de la Rúa. In Europe – increasing the likelihood of it happening.