Dogs have been our best friends for longer than we think

A huskie. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Dogs have been our best friends for longer than we think, at least 27,000 years and perhaps as much as 40,000 years, according to a study in the journal Current Biology.

Scientists studied the jaw bone of a Taimyr wolf which dates to around 35,000 years ago, and say it’s the most recent common ancestor of modern dogs and wolves.

This suggests dogs were domesticated much earlier than previous estimates of around 16,000 years ago.

“Dogs may have been domesticated much earlier than is generally believed,” says Love DalĂ©n of the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

The DNA evidence also shows that today’s Siberian Huskies and Greenland sled dogs share a high number of genes with the ancient Taimyr wolf.

“The power of DNA can provide direct evidence that a Siberian Husky you see walking down the street shares ancestry with a wolf that roamed Northern Siberia 35,000 years ago,” Skoglund says.

“This wolf lived just a few thousand years after Neandertals disappeared from Europe and modern humans started populating Europe and Asia.”

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