Specialized sledge dogs accompanied Inuit dispersal across the North American Arctic

Carly Ameen* (Corresponding Author), Tatiana Feuerborn, Anna Linderholm, Sarah Brown, Ardern Hulme-Beaman, Ophélie Lebrasseur, Mikkel-Holger S Sinding, Zachary T Lounsberry, Audrey Lin, Martin Appelt, Lutz Bachmann, Kate Helena Britton, Matthew Betts, John Darwent, Rune Dietz, Merete Fredholm, Shyam Gopalakrishnan, Olga I Goriunova, Bjarne Grønnow, James HaileJón Hallsteinn Hallsson, Ramona Harrison, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen, Rick Knecht, Robert J. Losey, Edouard Masson-MacLean, Thomas H. McGovern, Ellen Teresa McManus-Fry, Morten Meldgaard, Åslaug Midtdal, Madonna L Moss, Iurii G Nikitin, Tatiana Nomokonova, Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir, Angela Perri, Aleksandr N Popov, Lisa Rankin, Joshua D Reuther, Mikhail Sablin, Anne Lisbeth Schmidt, Scott Shirar, Konrad Smirarowski, Christian Sonne, Mary C Stiner, Mitya Vasyukov, Catherine F West, Gro Birgit Ween, Sanne Eline Wennerberg, Øystein Wiig, James Woollett, Love Dalen, Anders J Hansen, Tom Gilbert, Benjamin Sacks, Laurent Frantz, Greger Larson, Keith Dobney, Christyann M Darwent, Allowen Evin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Domestic dogs have been central to life in the North American Arctic for millennia. The ancestors of the Inuit were the first to introduce the widespread usage of dog sledge transportation technology to the Americas, but whether the Inuit adopted local Paleo-Inuit dogs or introduced a new dog population to the region remains unknown. To test these hypotheses we generated mitochondrial DNA and geometric morphometric data of skull and dental elements from a total of 922 North American Arctic dogs and= wolves spanning over 4,500 years. Our analyses revealed that dogs from Inuit sites dating from 2,000 BP possess morphological and genetic signatures that distinguish them from earlier Paleo-Inuit dogs, and identified a novel mitochondrial clade in eastern Siberia and Alaska. The genetic legacy of these Inuit dogs survives today in modern Arctic sledge dogs despite phenotypic differences between archaeological and modern Arctic dogs. Together, our data reveal that Inuit dogs derive from a secondary pre-contact migration of dogs distinct from Paleo-Inuit dogs, and most likely aided the Inuit expansion across the North American Arctic beginning around 1,000 BP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20191929
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1916
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by the following grants: AHRC (grant no. AH/K006029/1), AHRC-LabEx (grant no. AH/N504543/1), European Research Council grant (grant no. ERC-2013-StG-337574-UNDEAD), Natural Environmental Research Council grants (grant nos. NE/K005243/1, NE/K003259/1 and 2210 GG005 RGA1521), National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar
Programs (grant nos. NSF-ARC-1108175 and NSF-PLR-1304810), the EU-funded ITN project ArchSci2020 (grant no. 676154), Marie
Skłodowska-Curie action WhereWolf (grant no. 655732), the Qimmeq project, the Velux Foundations, the Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond and the Wellcome Trust (grant no. 210119/Z/18/Z).

Data accessibility. Mitochondrial sequence alignments have been deposited at the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) with project no. PRJEB31489. All datasets are available in the electronic supplementary material files and mitochondrial sequence alignments have been deposited at the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) with project no. PRJEB31489.


  • archaeology
  • geometric morphometrics
  • ancient DNA
  • migration
  • Canis lupus familiaris
  • circumpolar


Dive into the research topics of 'Specialized sledge dogs accompanied Inuit dispersal across the North American Arctic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this