In recent news, a 33,000-year-old dog skull recently unearthed provides evidence that perhaps not all dogs are very closely related as previously thought.
The skull was found in a Siberian mountain and dates back to about the same time period as another dog skull which was previously discovered in Belgium. This would suggest, instead of all dogs being domesticated from one central location, that there were multiple different dog domestication events.
According to a written statement by Greg Hodgins, researcher at the University of Arizona’s Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory and co-author of the study:
Essentially, wolves have long thin snouts and their teeth are not crowded, and domestication results in this shortening of the snout and widening of the jaws and crowding of the teeth. The argument that it is domesticated is pretty solid. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t appear to be an ancestor of modern dogs.
It is believed that both the Siberian and Belgian dogs went extinct at the last Ice Age which lasted from 26,000 to 19,000 years ago. What is interesting is that the two skulls represent two separate and previously unknown domestication events which suggest that the evolution of dogs may be more complicated than previously thought. And, as Hodgins points out, dogs have been man’s best friend for a very long time.