Dogs and humans sustained loving relationships with each other as many as 14,000 years ago, new research has proven.
Scientists now believe that a previously discovered dog that was buried 14,000 years ago was sick for weeks and cared for by its owner before its death.
Veterinarian Dr Luc Janssens has argued that the dog would not have survived as long as it did without the help of a human.
Dr Janssens analyzed remains that were discovered in 1914 to come up with the new theory.
Scientists have discovered that the loving relationship between humans and dogs has been around for at least 14,000 years. This conclusion was drawn after a veterinarian looked at an ancient dog’s teeth and determined it was cared for, while sick, by a human
The grave the remains were in was found by chance when a group of workers stumbled upon them.
The grave dates back to the Paleolithic era, and scientists believe the contents of the grave are 14,000 years old.
It is the oldest known space where dogs and humans were buried together.
Additionally, it comprises some of the earliest evidence on dogs’ domestication.
Dr Janssens’s new research, which was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, proves that dogs were not only domesticated but also cared for.
The work suggests the dog, which was ill before its death, was not only fed but also kept safe.
Pictured at the top are the remains of the dog analyzed in the new study
Dr Janssens believes that the dog, which died at around 27 to 28 weeks old, suffered from distemper.
‘Without adequate care, a dog with a serious case of distemper will die in less than three weeks.
‘That would mean keeping it warm and clean and giving it food and water, even though, while it was sick, the dog would not have been of any practical use as a working animal.
‘This, together with the fact that the dogs [in the grave] were buried with people who we may assume were their owners, suggests that there was a unique relationship of care between humans and dogs as long as 14,000 years ago,’ Dr Janssens said.
He came to this conclusion by studying the remains of the dog’s teeth.
The report said: ‘Based on his findings, [Dr Janssens] concluded that the dog was probably suffering from a serious infection of the morbilli virus – also known as canine distemper.’
However, the report pointed out that a definite diagnosis was not possible because the genetic material identifying the virus had perished.
Dr Janssens said that the type of damage that was done to the dog’s teeth convinced him that the dog had contracted distemper as a puppy aged from three to four months old.
The remains that were analyzed were found in a grave that dates back to the Paleolithic era
HOW DID DOGS BECOME DOMESTICATED?
A new study has found that dogs and humans have sustained loving relationships with each other for at least 14,000 years (file photo)
A genetic analysis of the world’s oldest known dog remains has revealed that dogs were domesticated 20,000 to 40,000 years ago in a single event by humans living in Eurasia.
Dr Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor in evolution at Stony Brook University, said: ‘The process of dog domestication would have been a very complex process, involving a number of generations where signature dog traits evolved gradually.
‘The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs likely arose passively, with a population of wolves somewhere in the world living on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps feeding off refuse created by the humans.
‘Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this, and while the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic [mutually beneficial] relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.’
‘After this the dog may have had two or possibly even three periods of serious illness lasting five to six weeks,’ the report said.
What convinced Dr Janssens that the dog was cared for was the amount of time it lived after falling ill.
He decided that if the dog was on its own it would not have lived three weeks, but, instead, it lived more than double that amount of time.
‘This dog was clearly seriously ill but it survived a further eight weeks, which would only be possible if it had been well cared for,’ the report explained.