Sponsored by: Office of the State Archaeologist, the University of Iowa Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Religion, Art and Art History, the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and the Iowa Academy of Science, Coe College
Dogs are a nearly universal presence in human populations. The ubiquity of dogs extends through the archaeological record, toward the hypothesized origin of dogs in the late Pleistocene, possibly 30 thousand years ago. The presence of dogs in the Americas dates to the early Holocene, with dogs found in archeological sites throughout the geographic extent of human populations. The antiquity of dogs in the Americas suggest that the history of dogs in the Americas mirrors the history of Native American populations. Analysis of ancient DNA from native dogs indicate that these dog populations were dramatically affected by two events in the history of Native American populations. Specifically, we found that native dog populations begin to diversify immediately after the peopling of the Americas ~15,000 years ago, and that European colonization resulted in the near elimination of pre-contact native dog diversity from the gene pools of modern dogs in the Americas. In sum, the intimate connection between dogs and humans persists in both the archaeological and genetic record from the earliest occupations of the Americas.