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Canis familiaris - Domestic dog
Range:  Worldwide
Size:  Highly variable, average is 30 to 125 lb (14 - 57 kg)

All of the fossils shown on this page come from North America.  The majority of domesticated dog (Canis familiaris) breeds once kept by the aboriginal Americans have long disappeared through interbreeding with the large stock of European dogs that were introduced to the continent several centuries ago.  However, some ancient Mexican breeds, such as the chihuahua and Mexican hairless, still survive today.  Estimates of when humans first began to domesticate dogs vary from 12,000 to 50,000 years ago.  It is also theorized that domestication may have occurred not once, but a number of times, and in several parts of the world.  There is a good possibility that multiple subspecies of wolves contributed to the ancestry of modern dogs. 

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At right are some teeth of a domestic dog found at a site on the northwestern coast of Alaska.  These teeth appear to be well mineralized, and are probably of substantial age.
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fossil dog teeth from Alaska - Image  C. Campbell
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canine (right) and left mandibular carnassial (left)
Late Pleistocene - Early Holocene
northwest coast of Alaska, USA
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fossil dog mandible from Kansas - Image  C. Campbell
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right mandible of (Canis familiaris?)
Pleistocene
Kansas River, Kansas, USA
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fossil dog mandible - Kansas - Image  C. Campbell
fossil dog mandible - Kansas - Image  C. Campbell
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Some close-up views of the mandible.
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This unusual Canis mandible was labeled as being that of an early Native American dog.  Very heavily fossilized, it probably dates from around the end of the last ice age.  However, I am of the opinion that it is more likely from a wolf, not only because of the robustness of the teeth, but also its rather large size of 7" (18 cm).
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Photographs and other illustrations (where indicated) are © C. Campbell's NATURAL WORLDS.
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