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University of Maine researcher finds bones of oldest domestic dog in the U.S.

A graduate student at the University of Maine recently made a starling discovery - the oldest known bones of a domesticated dog. The skull fragment found by Samuel Belknap III may shed light on the modern-day animals known as man's best friend.

Belknap discovered a skull fragment of a domestic dog which is believed to be 9,400 years old. The piece was found in human waste, suggesting that the relationship in North America between humans and canines dates back thousands of years.

"This is an important scientific discovery that can tell us not only a lot about the genetic history of dogs but of the interactions between humans and dogs in the past," Belknap said. "Not only were they most likely companions as they are today, the served as protection, hunting assistants, and also as a food source."

When the researcher uncovered the item, he was researching for his thesis on ancient North American diets. He was examining a sample found in the 1970s in a region of southwest Texas near Mexico's border.

According to, dogs were a major part of ancient Egyptian culture, and were seen both as pets and as symbols of gods.
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