Dogs migrated to America along with early human settlers 10,000 years ago

Scientists said Wednesday that they uncovered over 10,000 years ago the earliest remains of a working dog in America suggesting that the creatures preceded the first waves of human settlers.

People are known to have emigrated to North America between 30 000 and 11 000 years ago from Siberia via what's now the Bering Strait at the height of the last ice age." The past of dogs has been associated with humans since ancient times, and canine DNA can provide an outstanding timetable for colonization.

A recent research performed by the University of Buffalo studied the mitochondrial DNA of a bone fragment located in south-east Alaska.

However, closer analysis shows that it belonged to the femur of a dog who lived in the area some 10,150 years ago, sharing a genetic lineage with US dogs who lived before the arrival of European races.

"Because dogs are a proxy for human occupation, our data help provide not only a timing but also a location for the entry of dogs and people into the Americas," said Charlotte Lindqvist, a Buffalo University evolutionary biologist and a South Dakota university.

She said the findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, confirm the hypothesis that people migrated from Siberia to North America.

"Southeast Alaska may have been a kind of ice-free stop-off, and now €" with our dog – we think early human movement through the area could be a great deal more significant than any historically suspected," says Lindqvist.

A carbon isotope analysis of the bone fragment indicated that the former dog in Southeast Alaska actually had an aquatic diet that included salmon and seal and whale scraps.

Lindqvist said dogs didn't appear all at once in North America.

Any of them came with the Thule people from East Asia, while Siberian huskies came to Alaska in the 19th century during the Gold Rush.

There is a longstanding dispute whether the first people reached North America in a continental corridor that developed when the ice caps dropped off or thousands of years ago along the North Pacific coast.

Previous ageing figures of remains for dogs were lower than the fragment of Lindqvist and the team, indicating that during later continental migration dogs settled on the continent.

Lindqvist said her observations confirm the hypothesis that dogs were probably among the first waves of human settlers in North America.

"We also have evidence that the coastal edge of the ice sheet started melting at least around 17,000 year ago, whereas the inland corridor was not viable until around 13,000 years ago," she told AFP.

"And genetic evidence that a coastal route for the first Americans over 16,000 years ago seems most likely. Our study supports that our coastal dog is a descendant of dogs that participated in this initial migration."

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