August 3, 2010

14,000 Year Old Domestic Dog Remains Found

Fragments of a dog's skull and teeth have been discovered in a cave in Switzerland that date back more than 14,000 years, according to researchers, saying the find could be the oldest known remains of the domestic dog.

The fossils were among archaeological finds that were unearthed in 1873 in the Kesslerloch cave in northern Switzerland, Swiss news agency ATS said on Monday.

However, it was only last year that researchers at Germany's Tuebingen University decided to take a closer look at the remains, it said.

"During a recent re-analysis of the faunal remains, we identified a cranial fragment and teeth of the domestic dog," said the researchers in an article in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.

The large fragment from the maxilla was directly dated to "14,000 to 14,600 BP (Before Present)," it said.

"We argue that the maxilla fragment must now be considered the earliest indisputable directly dated evidence of a domestic dog," they said.

Belgian archaeologists claim to have discovered the skull of a dog dating from 30,000 years back, but researcher Hannes Napierala told ATS: "We are skeptical because the teeth are very similar to those of a wolf."

Researchers said the Switzerland find was clearly distinct from wolf remains.


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