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Keywords:

  • canine domestication;
  • peopling of America;
  • Paleoamerican;
  • Paleoindian;
  • aDNA

Abstract

We present the oldest genetically identified dog in the Americas, directly dated to 9,260 ± 170 Cal. B.P. The DNA was extracted from an occipital condyle imbedded in a human paleofecal sample from Hinds Cave in southwest Texas. A 368 base pair fragment of the mitochondrial genome control region was sequenced. These data were analyzed with comparable data, which included other ancient dogs and extant dogs, wolves and coyotes from around the world. Compiled with published data, our results characterize ancient American dogs within clades rooted by Eurasian wolves. In the Americas, these data provide no evidence of local interbreeding with wolves. This is a departure from the genetic pattern in other areas of the world where interbreeding with local wolf populations is apparent. Our discovery of domestic dog bone in a human paleofecal sample provides the earliest direct evidence for human consumption of dogs in the New World. These data support the hypothesis that dogs were a food source for early Paleoamericans. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.