Originally, American dogs didn't come from the domestication of American wolves, but from the domesticated dogs that came over with the First Peoples from Siberia and existed here for about 5,000 years until the settlers arrived with their dogs in the 15th century.
"It is known how Indigenous peoples of the Americas suffered from the genocidal practices of European colonists after contact", author Ripan Malhi, an anthropology professor at the University of IL, explains.
The oldest bones extracted from a grave in western IL had already been radio carbon dated to just under 10,000 years old, thousands of years after the first signs of human inhabitation on the North American continent.
Alaskan malamutes, like this one at the 2016 Westminster Dog Show, are among the oldest dog breeds in North America. Scientists found that the ancient dogs came first from Siberia, and that modern American breeds share few common genetic connections.
But it was the European wave of immigrants that spelled doom for American dogs, the study found. Perri said historical accounts suggest various possibilities for the demise.
The dogs' ancestors who lived in the Americas most likely descended from Siberia, as per a new genetic study.
Once the domesticated Siberian dogs arrived in North America, they co-existed with the First Peoples for nearly 9,000 years before Europeans arrived.
Major factors leading to the demise of pre-contact dogs probably include susceptibility to European-borne diseases, systematic persecution by European colonists and a cultural preference for European dogs. The site contains the earliest dog remains found in the Americas. They also believed that the Europeans might have killed the pre-contact dogs because they prefer the breed that they brought from their homelands.
A study reported in the journal Science offers an enhanced view of the origins and ultimate fate of the first dogs in the Americas.
"The picture is not as clear as they want it to be", Peter Savolainen, an associate professor in Evolutionary Genetics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, told Gizmodo.
The highest level of pre-contact DNA conclusively found in any of the modern dogs was four percent, a negligible result, the New York Times' James Gorman reports.
Because of that, Savolainen doesn't discount the possibility that while these pre-contact dogs might not have direct living descendants, earlier migrations could have brought over dogs whose genetic legacy has survived into the modern day.
Canine transmissible venereal tumors (CTVT) is a genital cancer that is spread between dogs during mating. This disease arose in the dog population about 8,000 years ago, spreading from the earliest dogs and, over a long period of time, making its way to canine populations in every part of the world.
The study also "pretty well put the kibosh" on any notion that the pre-contact dogs descended from North American wolves, said Perri, a lead author of the study.
"This study demonstrates that the history of humans is mirrored in our domestic animals".
"When we compare our ancient dog DNA to all other known dog/wolf DNA, we find that the closest relatives are the Siberian dogs".
But ancient dog genes do live on in a surprising place: tumors.
The most important take away from the study, however, is the thought that dogs has always been the men's best friend.