"A buried dog somehow shows how similar we are over the millennia when it comes to the feelings like grief and loss," Carl Presson, a museum project manager associated with the dig, said in a statement.

By Morgan Smith
September 28, 2020 11:26 AM
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Credit: Blekinge Museum

A recent discovery by archaeologists in Sweden gives new meaning to the phrase "man’s best friend."

On Thursday, the archaeologists announced that they unearthed the remains of a dog more than 8,400 years old at a burial site in south Sweden, the Associated Press reports.

The dog was buried next to a person, a nod to the tradition of people leaving sentimental, value objects with the deceased.

"The dog is well preserved, and the fact that it is buried in the middle of the Stone Age settlement is unique," Ola Magnell, an osteologist of Sweden’s Blekinge Museum told the Associated Press.

These discoveries "make you feel even closer to the people who lived here," Carl Persson, the museum’s project manager, said in a statement. "A buried dog somehow shows how similar we are over the millennia when it comes to the feelings like grief and loss."

Archaeologists plan to study the dog bones at the museum. The area in which they were found is believed to have been occupied by Stone Age hunters. Local authorities and archaeologists are conducting one of the region’s largest archaeological digs ever at the site.

Credit: Blekinge Museum

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Siena found what could be the oldest pet dog remains ever in Italy.

Researchers uncovered the remains, which are estimated to be between 14,000 and 20,000 years old, in two caves in southern Italy.

Such caves were also inhabited by humans during the same time period, the researchers wrote in their August Scientific Reports study.

"Dogs were the first animals domesticated by humans, long before the advent of agriculture," the researchers write in the study. "Besides occupying a special place in our present-day lives, dogs had important functional and symbolic roles throughout human history."

There’s no definitive answer as to how dogs went from frightening carnivores to the loving, cuddly companions we know today, but researchers have several theories.

Krishna Veeramah, an evolutionary ecologist at Stony Brook University, has said that "dog domestication" began when wolves started to approach hunter-gather groups to scavenge for leftovers, according to the BBC.

DNA samples suggest that this process of domestication began about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. Dogs would later be bred for special skills like hunting and herding, creating the hundreds of breeds we know today.