New Evidence of the Earliest Domestic Dogs in the Americas

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The domestication of dogs likely occurred in Eurasia by 16,000 years ago, and the initial peopling of the Americas potentially happened around the same time. Dogs were long thought to have accompanied the first migrations into the Americas, but conclusive evidence for Paleoindian dogs is lacking. In this study, the direct dating of two dogs from the Koster site (Greene County, Illinois) and a newly described dog from the Stilwell II site (Pike County, Illinois) to between 10,190 and 9,630 cal BP represents the earliest confirmed evidence of domestic dogs in the Americas and individual dog burials anywhere in the world. Analysis of these animals shows Early Archaic dogs were medium sized, lived active lifestyles, and exhibited significant morphological variation. Stable isotope analyses suggest diets dominated by terrestrial C3 resources and substantial consumption of riverine fish.