Dogs have been hanging out with humans way longer than thought, a new study suggests. UCLA researchers say the first ones were ancient wolves that started following hunter and gatherers around Europe between 18,000 and 32,000 years ago, reports the BBC. The finding, which contradicts previous theories that domesticated dogs first appeared in the Middle East or Asia about 13,000 years ago, is based on DNA analysis of fossils and comparison with modern dogs. Two of those fossils were more than 30,000 years old, notes phys.org.
“The initial interactions were probably at arm’s length, as these were large, aggressive carnivores,” one of the researchers tells the LA Times. "Eventually though, wolves entered the human niche." The two species probably helped each other—the wolves got carcasses of woolly mammoths and the like, and the humans got an alarm system around their nomadic camps. One thing common in all the coverage of the study in Science: Nobody expects this to be the final word in the debate.