A 33,000-year-old dog skull unearthed in a Siberian mountain cave presents some of the oldest known evidence of dog domestication and, together with an equally ancient find in a cave in Belgium, indicates that modern dogs may be descended from multiple ancestors.I've been following the dog domestication saga for a few years now; it seems that geneticists are in general agreement that domestic dogs share a fairly recent ancestry from East Asia, although there are some lingering controversies about the role of other dogs in the formation of modern breeds. On the contrary, there are now two cases of Upper Paleolithic domesticated dogs, from both Belgium and Siberia. I can't wrap my head around the idea that dogs that were domesticated more than 30 thousand years ago, and would -presumably- have plenty of time to adapt would be totally replaced.
It would be great if we could get some Paleolithic dog DNA for comparison, as this would show whether some modern dog breeds are differentially affiliated to Paleolithic dogs, which would support a "multiregional evolution of domestic dogs".
PLoS ONE 6(7): e22821. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022821
A 33,000-Year-Old Incipient Dog from the Altai Mountains of Siberia: Evidence of the Earliest Domestication Disrupted by the Last Glacial Maximum
Nikolai D. Ovodov et al.
Virtually all well-documented remains of early domestic dog (Canis familiaris) come from the late Glacial and early Holocene periods (ca. 14,000–9000 calendar years ago, cal BP), with few putative dogs found prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ca. 26,500–19,000 cal BP). The dearth of pre-LGM dog-like canids and incomplete state of their preservation has until now prevented an understanding of the morphological features of transitional forms between wild wolves and domesticated dogs in temporal perspective.
We describe the well-preserved remains of a dog-like canid from the Razboinichya Cave (Altai Mountains of southern Siberia). Because of the extraordinary preservation of the material, including skull, mandibles (both sides) and teeth, it was possible to conduct a complete morphological description and comparison with representative examples of pre-LGM wild wolves, modern wolves, prehistoric domesticated dogs, and early dog-like canids, using morphological criteria to distinguish between wolves and dogs. It was found that the Razboinichya Cave individual is most similar to fully domesticated dogs from Greenland (about 1000 years old), and unlike ancient and modern wolves, and putative dogs from Eliseevichi I site in central Russia. Direct AMS radiocarbon dating of the skull and mandible of the Razboinichya canid conducted in three independent laboratories resulted in highly compatible ages, with average value of ca. 33,000 cal BP.
The Razboinichya Cave specimen appears to be an incipient dog that did not give rise to late Glacial – early Holocene lineages and probably represents wolf domestication disrupted by the climatic and cultural changes associated with the LGM. The two earliest incipient dogs from Western Europe (Goyet, Belguim) and Siberia (Razboinichya), separated by thousands of kilometers, show that dog domestication was multiregional, and thus had no single place of origin (as some DNA data have suggested) and subsequent spread.