Subscribe to Archaeology

Did Dogs Live in Costa Rica 12,000 Years Ago?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA—The AFP reports that researcher Guillermo Vargas of the National Museum of Costa Rica re-examined a collection of 12,000-year-old animal bones unearthed in northeastern Costa Rica in the 1990s and identified the jaw of a dog. It had been previously thought that the jaw belonged to a coyote. Vargas explained that a coyote’s jaw has a different shape than a dog’s, and it has more pointed teeth. “The dog eats the leftovers from human food,” he said. “Its teeth are not so determinant in its survival.” And, he pointed out, coyotes didn’t arrive in Costa Rica until the twentieth century. The presence of a dog in Costa Rica 12,000 years ago therefore suggests people also lived there. “There have never been dogs without people,” said National Autonomous University of Mexico biologist Raúl Valadez. Researchers from Oxford University will now attempt to extract a DNA sample from the bone and carbon date it. To read about Indigenous dogs in the New World, go to "The American Canine Family Tree."

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement