Believe it or not, there was once a time when humans didn’t have dogs by their sides. It must’ve been a dark time with no fluffy animals to pet and no canines to kiss you. But a recent discovery showed that domesticated dogs might be even older than we thought.
Archaeologists recently discovered the remains of a dog that could be 14,000 to 20,000 years old! The details in these bones proved that this dog was much more domesticated than wolves. This leads researchers to believe that dogs have been domesticated for even longer than we’ve suspected.
What Do These Remains Tell Us?
Archaeologists discovered these remains across the Paglicci Cave and the Romanelli Cave in Italy. Humans lived in these caves during the Ice Age, between 14,000 and 40,000 years ago. The remains were also found very close to the human settlements. So, it’s suggested that dogs became domesticated during that time.
During their research, they also compared the bones of these dogs to the bones of present-day wolves. The features of the old remains were always significantly smaller than the typical wolf anatomy. This is another observation that suggests the dogs were domesticated.
“We believe that in the first stage of the domestication process it is always like that – domesticated animals are always smaller than wild ones,” said Dr. Boschin. “This is true for all mammals. In the case of dogs, we consider them to be pets, and this is the first evidence: Their smaller size.”
After further analysis, it was discovered that dogs started to differ from wolves between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago. Humans domesticating dogs is likely what caused this major separation. So, dogs have been human’s best friend for even longer than expected!
How Did Dogs Become Domesticated?
This discovery not only proved that dogs have been around a long time, but it also helped researchers figure out how dogs became domesticated. There is no definite explanation at this time, but there are many strong theories.
Many humans believe that wolves became scavengers when there was a lack of food. Thus, this would lead them closer to human settlements in search of something to eat. From there, it’s possible that they slowly bonded with the humans.
Other people think that humans and wolves worked together to hunt when prey was scarce. This would also have led them to have a strengthened bond. However, a darker theory is that humans sort of forced wolves to become domesticated. Some people believe that humans killed off the more aggressive wolves so that only calm, friendlier genes would be passed on. Again, nothing is for certain though.
Researchers hope that these newly discovered remains will lead to more answers about the dog’s history. We know our lovable, furry friends as they are today, but it can be interesting to learn about what dogs were like in the past. These remains are a huge breakthrough in the history of our best friends!