A genomic analysis of an ancient Taimyr wolf bone shows that dogs' special relationship to humans may go back 27,000 to 40,000 years.
The genome from this prehistoric specimen, which has been radiocarbon dated to 35,000 years ago, discloses that the Taimyr wolf symbolizes the most recent shared ancestor of present-day wolves and dogs. Previous genome-based estimates had advocated that the ancestors of modern-day dogs separated from wolves no more than 16,000 years ago, after the previous Ice Age.
The researchers are from Swedish Museum of Natural History, Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute. They made these discoveries based on a small piece of bone picked up during an expedition to the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. The DNA evidence also shows that present-day Siberian Huskies and Greenland sled dogs share an oddly great number of genes with the ancient Taimyr wolf.