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America's first dogs came from Siberia, disappeared after Europeans arrived

09 July 2018

Europeans could have brought over diseases such as rabies and canine distemper (similar to measles, but in dogs) that were probably not present in the Americas before, Perri said.

Scientists sequenced the genomes of ancient dogs using both mitochondrial DNA genes inherited from both parents, and mitochondrial DNA, genes passed from mothers to their offspring.

According to researchers, this form of cancer is found in dogs today inhabiting the Americas, and this is the only feature which connects them with ancient American dogs who migrated from Siberia and other parts of Asia.

"It is known how Indigenous peoples of the Americas suffered from the genocidal practices of European colonists after contact", author Ripan Malhi, an anthropology professor at the University of IL, explains.

Think your pup has something in common with dogs that roamed the Americas 10,000 years ago?

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

The researchers analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of over 70 was found during the excavation of dogs and found that the genetic relationship these dogs have with a knife to the dogs of the zhokhov island, which is located near the East Siberian sea. Evidence that these dogs were used in sledding, along with suggestions that they were used for hunting and hauling, means that they could have facilitated the early settlement of the Americas.

"By looking at genomic data along with mitochondrial data, we were able to confirm that dogs came to the Americas with humans and that almost all of that diversity was lost - most likely as a result of European colonization", said Kelsey Witt, an author of the study and the one who led the analysis of the sample DNAs. Instead, they realized that the native dogs had virtually vanished.

Looking closely at the analysis of the genomes, the researchers discovered that the ancient dogs died out when Europeans colonized the Americas. Europeans might have simply preferred to only breed and sustain the dogs they brought over from their homelands. The pre-contact dogs, however, shared genetic similarities with the ancestors of the Siberian Husky.

"This paper makes really clear that the ancient American dog appears to have nearly entirely vanished, though nobody seems to have any good explanations for why", said Elinor Karlsson, a University of MA professor who studies dog genetics and was not involved in the research, which was published Thursday in Science.

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"The picture is not as clear as they want it to be", Peter Savolainen, an associate professor in Evolutionary Genetics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, told Gizmodo. 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.

Thousands of dogs around the world - from Aboriginal camp dogs in Australia to street dogs in Buenos Aires - are affected by an extraordinary type of infectious cancer that causes genital tumours and can jump between individuals, known as Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour or CTVT.

The only surviving legacy appears to be a cancer that arose from the cells of a dog that lived more than 8,000 years ago and has since spread to other canines throughout the world, an global team reported Thursday in the journal Science.

"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", senior lead author Laurent Frantz, a lecturer at Queen Mary University and co-investigator at the University of Oxford, said. Researchers compared the 71 ancient genomes with DNA from more than 5,000 modern dogs, including breeds like chihuahuas and Carolina dogs, which are commonly thought to be descended from indigenous populations.

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America's first dogs came from Siberia, disappeared after Europeans arrived