Study says ancient Inuit brought sled dogs from Siberia that helped them survive

(Inside Science) – Huskies, malamutes, and Greenland sled dogs are fluffy, hard workers. They also share a lineage that dates back approximately 2,000 years. It was then that the Inuit began to move from Siberia to the Arctic. Even though dogs were already in North America, the Inuit brought dogs with unique abilities – and it helped people survive in a new place. It is the conclusion of a new paperpublished this week in the magazine Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology.

The study authors collected bones and materials from museums in Denmark, Greenland and Canada, as well as dog skin clothing. They compared the ancient remains of 391 dogs and found distinctive skull and tooth shapes. In a comparison of 628 archaeological DNA samples from dogs across Russia and the North American Arctic, researchers found unique genetic signatures that were different from those of dogs already living in North America, indicating that they were brought with the Inuit to do specific jobs. .

Dogs played a vital role in the success of the Inuit in colonizing the Arctic, which happened at lightning speed – in a single generation, said Tatiana Feuerborn, of the Globe Institute in Denmark and the Center for Paleogenetics in Sweden, co-author of the article. .

She explains that the Inuit diet was based on sea mammals, which they hunted from boats. They used the dogs to bring the carcasses home on sleds. In addition to carrying dinner, the dogs allowed groups to move quickly from summer camps to winter camps. “These dogs were incredibly specialized,” Feuerborn said. “They were adapted to the lifestyle and able to endure hardship in a way that most other dogs are not.”

Descendants of the original sled dogs still serve modern Inuit communities in many ways – working as tools and transport companions and acting as an important cultural symbol in the North American Arctic. “It’s no wonder they’re still very popular and used,” Feuerborn said.

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Bette C. Alvarado