Man's best friend has not been around for nearly as long as thought, according to a study Thursday that brings the emergence of modern dogs forward by some 15,000 years. The finding follows the reclassification of two fossil skulls, one more than 30,000 years old, that were the basis for dating dog domestication to a long-gone era when early humans were still roaming hunter-gatherers. This means that the earliest fossil evidence for domesticated dogs still dates to about 15,000 years ago — a time when humans started forming permanent settlements and farming, said the team. "Scientists have been eager to put a collar on the earliest domesticated dog," said biologist and study co-author Abby Drake of Skidmore College, New York.
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