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Remains of a 12,000-Year-Old Dog Rewrite Central American History Of Human Presence

By: April Carson

Paleozoologists have studied a small portion of an ancient coyote jaw that was unearthed in Costa Rica's Northeast during excavations in the 1990s. It puzzled scientists that these creatures were able to survive so far south during the Pleistocene age (about 12,000 years ago). The morphology of the teeth revealed that these are the oldest canine fossils in Central America.


In Costa Rica, scientists discovered the country's oldest dog bones and the earliest evidence of human presence

Dogs (Canis familiaris) were the first animals to be tamed by mankind. This event, though, is disputed by scientists. According to some calculations, domestic dog and wolf populations diverged approximately 135 thousand years ago. According to others, they separated from a common ancestor between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. In most parts of the world one can find dogs no older than 10 thousand years old.

However, strong evidence of the domestication of dogs by humans dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period (40,000 years ago), when bones of these creatures, which acted as hunting assistants, were discovered at numerous sites in Europe, Altai, and the Middle East.


Multiple branches of the modern-day domestic dog's family tree date back to before the invasion by humans, according on paleogeneticists. These include a West European lineage, an East Asian lineage, and an Arctic/American/Central Asian lineage. The first range is made up of ancient animals from the Near East and the Levant, modern African, ancient and modern European, as well as steppe dogs from the Bronze Age. Modern dogs from China, Vietnam, islands in Southeast Asia and New Guinea are represented by the third line. Ancient American and Siberian dogs are included in the third group.

Bone Remains

From the National Museum of Costa Rica's Dr. Guillermo Vargas, we learned about the digs that are currently being carried out in the northeast of Costa Rica. According to the scientist, in 1978, bones from the late Pleistocene period were discovered at Nakaoma, after which actual excavation began there in the 1990s. It was along the Puerto Viejo river.

"During the excavations, remains of ancient man appeared together with findings from extinct mammals, such as the mastodon, ground sloth and horse", said Vargas. Remains of a dog were found that are 12 thousand years old. This is important because it is one of the oldest dogs in the world and much older than those we know today.

In 1948, a team of archaeologists from the University of Costa Rica discovered bones from a large horse (Equus giganteus), a glyptodon, a mastodon (Mammutidae), and a coyote jaw. The findings were estimated to be around 12,000 years old. According to Vargas, however, finding coyote fossils of this age is not unusual "because they are generalists that adapt to any habitat they find themselves in".

Vargas said that further studies conducted in 2006 on the bones revealed that some of them were from a dog. The fossilized jaw was pieced together and found to be very similar to those of present-day dogs, but larger (with a height of 10 centimeters, or 3.9 inches).

The oldest dog bones in Central America

A detailed study of the jaw revealed physical characteristics that were specific to dogs. The coyote, for example, needs sharper teeth, since it eats human food; this characteristic was not essential for survival.

Dogs are also proof of prehistoric people dwelling in Costa Rica during the Pleistocene period, which was previously absent from the archaeological record; however, by comparing their fossils with canid species found in North America, it was possible to determine that the size of the animal indicated it would have lived among humans. The findings suggest that man and dog co-existed for at least 12,000 years in all regions studied.


The earliest known remains of domestic dogs in the Western Hemisphere appear to date from about 15,000 years ago, when members of the Paleo-Siberian culture traveled through the Bering Strait. The oldest known dog fossils on the continent are 10,150 years old and were found in Alaska.

In episode 11 of Bio-Hack Your Best Life, Elisabeth and Billy go through reasons why manifesting what you desire sometimes works and other times doesn't. They provide procedures for how to truly create your best life, as well as the science behind it.


About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav







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