Publication Details

Boschin, F., Bernardini, F., Pilli, E., Vai, S., Zanolli, C., Tagliacozzo, A., Fico, R., Fedi, M., Corny, J., Dreossi, D., Lari, M., Modi, A., Vergata, C., Tuniz, C., Moroni, A., Boscato, P., Caramelli, D. & Ronchitelli, A. (2020). The first evidence for Late Pleistocene dogs in Italy. Scientific Reports, 10 (1), 13313-1-13313-14.


The identification of the earliest dogs is challenging because of the absence and/or mosaic pattern of morphological diagnostic features in the initial phases of the domestication process. Furthermore, the natural occurrence of some of these characters in Late Pleistocene wolf populations and the time it took from the onset of traits related to domestication to their prevalence remain indefinite. For these reasons, the spatiotemporal context of the early domestication of dogs is hotly debated. Our combined molecular and morphological analyses of fossil canid remains from the sites of Grotta Paglicci and Grotta Romanelli, in southern Italy, attest of the presence of dogs at least 14,000 calibrated years before present. This unambiguously documents one of the earliest occurrence of domesticates in the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe and in the Mediterranean. The genetic affinity between the Palaeolithic dogs from southern Italy and contemporaneous ones found in Germany also suggest that these animals were an important common adjunct during the Late Glacial, when strong cultural diversification occurred between the Mediterranean world and European areas north of the Alps. Additionally, aDNA analyses indicate that this Upper Palaeolithic dog lineage from Italy may have contributed to the genetic diversity of living dogs.



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