PORTLAND, Maine — A University of Maine researcher has found a bone fragment from what he says is the oldest-known domesticated dog in the Americas.
Graduate student Samuel Belknap III says he came across the bone while analyzing a dried-out sample of human waste that had been unearthed during an archaeological dig in Texas in the 1970s.
He says a carbon-dating test pegged the age of the bone at 9,400 years old. A DNA analysis confirmed it came from a dog.
He says it appears the dog was used for food because the bone was found deep inside a pile of human excrement and had changed color after passing through the digestive tract.
The paper by Belknap and other researchers has been accepted, pending revisions, for publication in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.