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The oldest domesticated dog in the Americas

The skull fragment of a 9,400-year-old domesticated dog, the oldest in the Americas, has been found by a University of Maine student.

Samuel Belknap III, a graduate research assistant working under the direction of Kristin Sobolik in UMaine’s Department of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute, found a 9,400-year-old skull fragment of a domestic dog during analysis of an intact human paleofecal sample.

The fact that the bone was found in human waste provides the earliest proof that humans in the New World used domesticated dogs as food sources.

“This is an important scientific discovery that can tell us not only a lot about the genetic history of dogs but of the interactions between humans and dogs in the past,” said Belknap. “Not only were they most likely companions as they are today, they served as protection, hunting assistants, and also as a food source.”

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