Three canine skeletons found in the Midwestern United States date to roughly 10,000 years ago, making them the earliest known domestic dogs in the Americas.
Angela Perri at Durham University, UK, and her colleagues analysed two skeletons excavated at the Koster archaeological site in Illinois and a third from the nearby Stilwell site. The researchers found that the two Koster dogs are between 9,700 and 10,100 years old; the Stilwell animal is almost precisely the same age. All three were deliberately interred, suggesting a significant relationship between human and animal. They are the world’s oldest intentional burials of individual dogs.
Although the three dogs lived at the same time and location, they varied in appearance. The Stilwell dog was the size of a “small, modern English setter”, the authors write, whereas the two Koster dogs were shorter and lighter. All three ate fish and had highly active lifestyles.