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Arrival of European dogs almost wiped out ancient American dogs

Arrival of European dogs almost wiped out ancient American dogs. Many popular dog breeds today like pugs, chihuahuas, and labradors can be traced back Eurasian breeds, but the dogs that were native to the Americas were completely wiped out with the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century.

Now, the only remaining lineage of ancient dogs native to North America is a transmissible cancer, according to a new archeological study.

Researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Queen Mary University, and Durham University studied American ancient dog remains and discovered that only living relative of the dogs is the cancer.

The results were published in the journal Science and shed light on how some diseases and cancer genomes can evolve and spread even if their roots have long since gone.

For the study, the researchers analyzed genetic information from 71 archeological canine remains from North America and Siberia.

The researchers were able to show that the native American dogs arrived with the earliest human migrations to North and South America 10,000 years ago.

Early native dogs were not like the dogs we see today and the researchers found that the genetic information of the remains was different from any other dog elsewhere in the world.

The dogs did not descend from North American wolves but rather from Siberia.

“Archaeological evidence has long suggested that ancient dogs had a dynamic history in the Americas, but the fate of these pre-contact dogs and their relationship to modern American dog populations was largely unknown,” said Angela Perri, a co-first author of the study. “Our study confirms that they likely originated in Siberia, crossing the Bering Strait during initial human migrations.”

After comparing modern and ancient canine genomes, the researchers were able to determine that the native American dogs disappeared when the first Europeans arrived

“This study demonstrates that the history of humans is mirrored in our domestic animals,” said Greger Larson, the study’s senior author. “People in Europe and the Americas were genetically distinct, and so were their dogs. And just as indigenous people in the Americas were displaced by European colonists, the same is true of their dogs.”

Even though native or “pre-contact” dogs were quickly wiped out, their genome closely matches a kind of venereal disease that causes canine transmissible venereal tumors (CTVT).

CTVT originated in one dog that lived several thousand years ago and the researchers discovered that the first “CTVT founder dog” was a close relative of early American dogs and that the cancer is still spread through breeds today.

The researchers were surprised to find that the only link to pre-contact dogs today is a cancer caused by venereal disease, but the study adds to archaeology’s understanding of early human migrations, the impacts of Europeans settling in America, and canine history.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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