Dogs have long been described as man’s best friend, and scientists have now looked into how long people have had four-legged companions. It turns out the bond could be as old as 11,000 years.
A study, which was published in Science, set out to explore migration partnerships between dogs and people. By looking at the genomes of 27 ancient dogs and comparing them to human DNA sites, it was found that dogs came from an extinct wolf population and certain groups mirrored the travels of humans.
The study of dog genomes alongside humans reveals a shared history with ‘Levant-related ancestry in Africa and early agricultural Europe’. These findings importantly show that dogs and people worked alongside each other upwards of 11,000 years ago.
Describing the process of placing the history of dogs and humans together through genomes, Pontus Skoglund, a paleogenomicist at the Francis Crick Institute and a co-author of the study, told Science:
It’s like you have an ancient text in two different languages, and you’re looking to see how both languages have changed over time.
The relationship between the two species may not have been as friendly as it is now. This study has found gaps where relationships between dogs and humans were not found, and this could be due to the animals going on different paths or humans leaving them behind. Equally, humans may have used the animals to trade, and this draws into question the companionship that many associate with humans and dogs.
This study of dog genomes to uncover migration patterns alongside humans reveals new information about the history of dogs, and it seems that there has been a long-standing relationship between humans and canines. With that said, it is unclear exactly how the two have interacted over the thousands of years that dogs have been domesticated.