The evidence quoted below might increase the plausibility of the theory that dogs helped give Homo sapiens a survival advantage over Neanderthals.
(p. A8) The ancestors of modern wolves and dogs split into different evolutionary lineages 27,000 to 40,000 years ago, much earlier than some other research has suggested, scientists reported Thursday.
The new finding is based on a bone fragment found on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia several years ago. When scientists studied the bone and reconstructed its genome — the first time that had been done for an ancient wolf, or any kind of ancient carnivore — they found it was a new species that lived 35,000 years ago.
Based on the differences between the genome of the new species, called the Taimyr wolf, and the genomes of modern wolves and dogs, the researchers built a family tree that shows wolves and dogs splitting much earlier than the 11,000 to 16,000 years ago that a study in 2014 concluded.
For the full story, see:
JAMES GORMAN. “Dogs Split From Wolves Much Earlier Than Thought.” The New York Times (Fri., MAY 22, 2015): A8.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the date of the online version of the story is MAY 21, 2015, and has the title “Family Tree of Dogs and Wolves Is Found to Split Earlier Than Thought.”)
(Note: the online version says that the page on the New York edition was A10; my edition is the one that is sent to Omaha.)