He has hair, teeth, whiskers and eyelashe, and a cute little face. It may seem we’re talking about 8-week-old puppy. However, in fact, this puppy was born 18,000 years ago.
As reported by CBS News, the body of this puppy was found frozen in the mud in Yakutsk, a city in Siberia. The body was incredibly well-preserved and at first, scientists were in disbelief at the radio carbon dating results of the prehistoric puppy’s actual age. Whether the puppy is a dog or a wolf, or something in between, is still unknown. The puppy’s DNA was tested and the results came back ambiguous, so they tested it again with the same result. The third round of testing is underway.
The puppy has been named “Dogor”, a word that in the local language means “friend”. The area where the incredibly well-preserved body was found, a region called Yakut, is becoming increasingly attractive to scientists. Climate change is causing what used to be permafrost to melt, revealing increasing numbers of well-preserved prehistoric creatures.
DNA studies of dogs, wolves, and fossils have concluded that sometime between 18,000 and 32,000 years ago, wolves gradually transformed into dogs in association with humans, according to Brian Handwerk from the Smithsonian Institute. Dogs were the first species domesticated by humans, who then went on to domesticate many other species. It’s not clear if humans deliberately domesticated dogs or if some wolves just decided to throw their lot in with humanity and domesticated themselves.
Some of the DNA studies on modern dogs suggest that dogs were domesticated not once, but twice. According to Greger Larson, director of the Wellcome Trust Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network at Oxford University, there appears to have been a strain of dogs domesticated in western Siberia that inhabited Europe, and then a strain of dogs domesticated in Asia seems to have migrated into Europe some time after that event, around 14,000 years ago, and interbred with and largely replaced the original western dogs. However, some scientists dispute the idea of two domestication events and think it happened once in Asia and several waves of migrations around the world occurred after that.
All existing dogs that have been examined so far can be easily separated into two groups based on their DNA, ancient Asian types like Tibetan mastiffs and Chows, and all of the other dogs. Muddying the picture is the fact that dogs have clearly been regularly cross-breeding with grey wolves throughout their domestication period and that dogs aren’t descended from grey wolves but rather from a now-extinct species of wolves that lived in Asia in the distant past.
A lot of questions still remain to be answered but one thing is for certain: Dogor is an invaluable specimen who will help clear up the confusing story of how humans and dogs became partners.
If you think Dogor is not only kind of adorable but historically fascinating, spread the news and tell your dog-loving friends about him.