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Man and his best friend go back longer than thought, study says

Man and his best friend may have been buddies for a lot longer than was commonly thought.

Paleontologists working in the Czech Republic have discovered evidence which may conclude a contentious debate within the archeological community over the chronology of the domestication of wolves and, ultimately, the emergence of the earliest dogs. Their paper, which appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science, reports the findings of the remains of three dogs dating back to the Paleolithic period, with one of animals having had been buried with a bone in its mouth. (The Paleolithic era dates  to the first use of tools by humans, more than two and a half million years ago.)

The three complete skulls were identified as domesticated dogs. Also, a skull believed to be that of a Pleistocene wolf was found along with three other skulls of indeterminate origin in the same area which might be the remains of hybrids or captive wolves.

As they looked for clues in the remains, the researchers suggested that ancient humans may have been responsible for placing the bone in the mouth of the dead animal as part of the burial rite. Also,  perforations found in the skulls may have been the result of brain removal, again, an act they attributed to humans.

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