Dogs Migrated to the Americas with Humans 15,000 Years Ago, Archeologists Reveal

Turns out, dogs have always been man's best friend.

If it seems like your dog is always following you around, that's because it's in his or her nature—and it has been for a long time. According to a new study conducted by archeologists and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archaeological and genetic data has revealed that dogs most likely accompanied humans when they were migrating to the Americas from East Asia some 15,000 years ago. Given how closely dogs' and humans' lives are intertwined today, it's no surprise that they would have made that journey together.

In analyzing ancient dog remains, a team of archeologists were also able to predict approximately when dogs domesticated from wolves. Lead study author and archaeologist Angela Perri, a research fellow at Durham University's department of archaeology in the United Kingdom, found this most likely happened more than 23,000 years ago in Siberia.

Woman Sitting with Dog
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Although there is no definitive reason for why or how dogs domesticated from wolves, archeologists believe that the harsh, cold climate brought wolves and humans closer together for survival. "Wolves likely learned that scavenging from humans regularly was an easy free meal, while humans allowed this to happen so long as wolves were not aggressive or threatening," Perri said. The earliest confirmed dog bones were found in Germany over 100 years ago and are about 15,000 years old. Perri hopes to locate dog bones even older dog bones in Siberia to aid further research.

A similar study conducted in 2020 also examined the genomic relationship between dogs and humans. Archeologists wanted to better understand if wolves and domesticated dogs were viewed as companions, assistants for trading, or something else entirely. "The identification of events where dogs moved between different human groups, or humans dispersed without dogs provides a granularity that we have not previously had in addressing [questions of domestication origins]," Elaine Ostrander, a canine geneticist at the National Human Genome Research Institute who was not involved in the study, told The Guardian.

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