How An Entire Line Of Dogs In The Americas Disappeared

Study: Ancient North American dogs were nearly wiped out after arrival of European breeds

These already domesticated dogs likely followed their human counterparts to this new land and all across the region.

They also sequenced the nuclear genome (which accounts for 99 per cent of our whole DNA) of seven of the ancient dogs.

Originally, American dogs didn't come from the domestication of American wolves, but from the domesticated dogs that came over with the First Peoples from Siberia and existed here for about 5,000 years until the settlers arrived with their dogs in the 15th century.

Instead, the dogs form a monophyletic lineage that likely originated in Siberia and dispersed into the Americas alongside people. "Although this cancer's DNA has mutated over the years, it is still essentially the DNA of that original founder dog from many thousands of years ago".

Timeline of the arrival of native North American dogs across the Americas.

For the study, the researchers analyzed genetic information from 71 archeological canine remains from North America and Siberia.

But it was the European wave of immigrants that spelled doom for American dogs, the study found. Perri said historical accounts suggest various possibilities for the demise.

Native dogs across North America all but disappeared as a result of Europeans arriving in the Western Hemisphere some 500 years ago, a study published Thursday found. But though this lineage thrived for centuries, it seems their fate was inextricably tied to the indigenous people who were killed by the Europeans.

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National Geographic's Maya Wei-Haas explains that European dogs, like their human owners, probably carried diseases that pre-contact dogs were unequipped to fend off. The site contains the earliest dog remains found in the Americas.

Meanwhile, Siberian huskies and other Arctic dogs did likely descend from the ancestor of pre-contact dogs, but have plenty of DNA intermingled from European and Asian breeds.

A comprehensive study on the DNA of ancient dog remains found on the American continent has uncovered a population of canines distinct from the wolves and coyotes that already lived there. It also took a devastating toll on their pets. These pre-contact dogs were widespread across the continent, varying in size and shape, and were largely the only domestic animals associated with Native American groups.

The indigenous dogs did appear to leave a genetic legacy: a rare dog cancer known as canine transmissible venereal tumor, or CTVT, that affected a single dog several thousand years ago.

Senior lead author Dr. Laurent Frantz, from Queen Mary University of London and the Palaeo-BARN, said, "It is fascinating that a population of dogs that inhabited many parts of the Americas for thousands of years, and that was an integral part of so many Native American cultures, could have disappeared so rapidly".

Though there's still plenty of research to be done in untangling the genetic history of humanity's best friend, the study brings more clues to the table, according to Krishna Veeramah, a geneticist at Stony Brook University who has studied ancient dog evolution.

The new findings reinforce the idea that early human and dog inhabitants of the Americas faced numerous same challenges after European contact, Malhi said. Perri, referencing the animals' small, slender stature, tells Grimm that "it wouldn't be surprising if they were all used as hunting dogs".

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