|By Joseph Scalise | 2 years ago|
The dogs that were native to North America went extinct soon after Europeans came to the continent, according to a new study published in the journal Science.
This research comes from a team of intrnational sciwho analyzed genes from dog remains collected at archaeological sites in both Siberia and North America. That showed the dogs that originally called the Americas home were genetically unique when compared to other canines on Earth.
Rather than descending from North American wolves, they first came from Siberia and crossed to North America during early human migrations.
However, once Europeans spread out to the New World the canine populations rapidly declined.
“It is fascinating that a population of dogs that inhabited many parts of the Americas for thousands of years, and that was an integral part of so many Native American cultures, could have disappeared so rapidly,” said study co-author Laurent Frantz, a researcher from Queen Mary University of London, according to CBS News,
While the scientists did not cite a direct reason for the rapid decline, it likely occurred as a result of disease, cultural persecution and biological changes.
However, while the species is long gone, a special cancer known as canine transmissible venereal tumors (CTVT) — which is spread by dogs during mating — comes from the breed. That is how their legacy lives on today.
“It’s quite incredible to think that possibly the only survivor of a lost dog lineage is a tumor that can spread between dogs as an infection” said lead author Maire Ni Leathlobhair, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, according to Gizmodo. “Although this cancer’s DNA has mutated over the years, it is still essentially the DNA of that original founder dog from many thousands of years ago.”