The oldest dog in America

It was in a 1978 excavation in Nacaome, northeastern Costa Rica. Bone remains from the late Pleistocene period were found. In 1990, they analyzed a piece of jawbone. Initially they thought it was a coyote. Now it is known that it may have been the oldest dog in the Americas. The fangs on the jaw resemble those of a domestic dog.

This would be the jaw of America's oldest dog.
This would be the jawbone of the oldest dog in America.

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False coyote

“We thought it was very strange to have a coyote in the Pleistocene. That is, 12,000 years ago. We saw that the characteristics would indicate that it was a dog. We scanned it. And it showed that it was a dog that lived with humans 12,000 years ago in Costa Rica. We found it strange that it was classified as a coyote”. Costa Rican researcher Guillermo Vargas explained, analyzing the samples reviewed.

“The dog eats the leftovers of human food. Therefore, its teeth are not so decisive in its survival. It hunts large prey with humans. This sample reflects that difference,” he said.

UNAM (Mexico) biologist Raul Valadez, see that the Bering Strait migration theory is related. “The first domesticated dogs entered the continent about 15,000 years ago. It was by the migration of Asians across the Bering Strait. There have never been dogs without people. This could be the oldest dog in the Americas,” he said.

Remains of dogs were found in different places in America.
Remains of dogs were found in different places in America.
Pet dogs

The samples at the moment have no validation from a specialist journal. Researchers believe this could be a key piece to prove the animal’s provenance. And also the life that humans led thousands of years ago.

“It would be the first evidence of its kind. Humans in Costa Rica during a period long before [de lo que se pensaba]. It would show us that there were societies that could have dogs. And they had surplus food. They had dogs out of desire, they were not dogs of war that could cause harm,” Vargas concluded.

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