Modern sled dogs - Arctic-adapted breeds like the Greenland sled dog, Alaskan Malamute and Husky - share ancient Siberian roots and represent a distinct genetic lineage that likely emerged as the final glacial remnants of the last ice-age subsided almost 10,000 years ago. They've found that sled dogs represent an ancient lineage going back at least 9,500 years and that wolves bred with the ancestors of sled dogs as well as American dogs.
Now, light has been shed on the origin of the sledge dog. "Until now, we have thought that sledge dogs were only 2-3,000 years old", says the other first author, Associate Professor Shyam Gopalakrishnan, Globe Institute.
Mikkel Sinding, from the Globe Institute and a Postdoctoral Fellow in Trinity's School of Genetics and Microbiology, said: "This emphasises that sledge dogs and Arctic people have worked and adapted together for more than 9,500 years". In recent years, have appeared in Siberia artifacts of the upper paleolithic (between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago) to cut bone, antler and ivory similar to the tools used by the inuit to modern to ensure the shoulder straps of the harness of the dogs, suggesting the ancient origins of the sleds.
Sled dogs - which include the Husky, Alaskan Malamute and the Greenland sled dog, pictured - are among the most unique of all canines.
Sled dogs near Val Thorens ski resort in France, Europe.
This, the researchers said, is the oldest complete dog genome to date and helps reveal an extremely early diversification of dogs into sled dogs.
An global team of researchers has sequenced the genomes of 10 modern sled dogs, an ancient sled dog and an ancient wolf, both from Siberia, and analyzed their genetic relationships with other modern dogs.
As part of their research, the scientists also sequenced the genomes of ten modern Greenland Sledge Dogs and a 33 000-year-old Siberian wolf. They have compared these genomes to genomes of dogs and wolves from around the world.
Researchers analysed the genomes of modern Greenland sled dogs (pictured), comparing them to other modern and ancient breeds to see how they were related.
The research also showed that sled dog genomes contain mutations related to their cold environments, such as running and pulling sleds in low-oxygen conditions.
The modern sledge dogs have more genetic overlap with other modern dog breeds than Zhokhov has, but the studies do not show us where or when this occurred. Of the modern sledge dogs, the Greenland Sledge Dog has the least genetic overlap with modern non-sledge dogs, meaning that it is probably the oldest sledge dog breed in the world today.
Sled dogs do not have the same genetic adaptations to a sugar- and starch-rich diet that other dogs have. On the other hand, they have adaptations to high-fat diets, with mechanisms that are similar to those described among polar bears and Arctic people.
This was especially clear in the case of Greenland sled dogs, whose genomic link to their Siberian forebears is more direct thanks to their isolated populations.