Americas' Oldest Dog Unearthed

9,400-year-old Fido ended up as dinner

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 20, 2011 4:00 AM CST

(Newser) – The first known domesticated dog in the Americas lived some 9,400 years ago and likely provided its owner with company, security, and, eventually, dinner, an ancient bone fragment suggests. A University of Maine researcher found the bone fragment in a prehistoric sample of human waste in Texas. DNA testing confirmed that it came from a dog and not a wolf, AP reports.

Researchers believe American dog breeds, like the ancient pooch, are descended from Eurasian wolves that crossed the Bering land bridge along with human settlers. “I didn’t start out looking for the oldest dog in the New World,” the researcher tells Discovery. “I started out trying to understand human diet in southwest Texas. It so happens that this person, who lived 9,400 years ago, was eating dog."

This bone fragment of a dog skull was discovered in the Hinds Cave in southwest Texas.
This bone fragment of a dog skull was discovered in the Hinds Cave in southwest Texas.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
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