May 27, 2020

Dog or wolf? This carriage frozen 18,000 years ago baffles scientists

The body of an 18,000-year-old canine puppy, dug in the frozen soil of Siberia, has baffled scientists because DNA tests do not define whether it is a wolf or a dog.

Preserved by permafrost, the nose, fur and teeth of the specimen are remarkably intact. Using carbon dating in the bone of the creature's rib, experts from the Paleogenetic Center of Sweden were able to confirm that the specimen had been frozen for approximately 18,000 years, but so far the exhaustive DNA tests have failed to prove whether the animal was a dog or a wolf.

"It's usually relatively easy to tell the difference between the two"said David Stanton, a researcher at the Paleogenetic Center. "We already have a lot of data, and with that amount of data, I would expect to know if it was one or the other. The fact that we cannot suggest that it is from a population that was both ancestral, to dogs and wolves, "he explained, quoted by CNN.

Stanton explains that the puppy's period is "A very interesting moment in terms of evolution of wolves and dogs".

"We don't know exactly when the dogs were domesticated, but it may have been from that time. We are interested in knowing if it is a dog or a wolf, or maybe it's halfway between the two," he said.

Other tests could provide more information on exactly when dogs were domesticated, Stanton said.It is believed that modern dogs have been domesticated by wolves, but exactly when it is unclear: in 2017, a study published in the journal 'Nature Communications' He found that modern dogs were domesticated from a single population of wolves 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

On the contrary, a 2016 Oxford University study, published in the journal 'Science', suggested that dogs were domesticated independently of gray wolves twice during the Paleolithic era, once in Asia and once in Europe.

Scientists at the Paleogenetic Center said on Twitter that genome analysis had revealed that the puppy was male. They said that, after consulting with their Russian colleagues, they would call the dogor puppy, which means "friend" in yakutia language.

The scientists plan to run more genome data tests on the creature to discover more about its origins. Ep

. (tagsToTranslate) Science

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