Researchers have revealed how the Inuit people of Siberia and Alaska first conquered the harsh landscape and freezing conditions of North America. The key, scientists claim, was in the Inuit bringing their own dogs to traverse the sterile landscape, rather than adopting dogs already present in the regions they travelled through.
These dogs allowed the Inuit to travel and hunt more effectively given their superior performance.
An international team of researchers analysed the remains of hundreds oaf Arctic dogs dating back 1,000 years, along with the DNA of over 900 dogs and wolves that lived in the region over the last 4,500 years.
Using this mass of data, scientists were able to map a picture of population changes that corresponded with the arrival of the Inuit.
The unprecedented discovery was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences journal, and is the first to show that the ancestors of modern-day Inuit introduced a new, specialised dog population into the area.
Scientists have made an unprecedented discovery about North American history (Image: GETTY)
Inuit sledge dogs are said to have been the key to expansion across North America (Image: GETTY)
This ran alongside the regions existing dog population, that was often smaller in size and population.
Researchers say the findings indicate that the Inuit wanted to build on and strengthen the features on their dogs as they acknowledged their usefulness in expanding across North America.
Lead researcher, Carly Ameen, from the University of Exeter spoke to Newsweek about the significance of the findings.
She said: "People have been interested in dogs and in particular sled dogs for a long time, both in archaeology and other disciplines.
JUST IN: Pompeii discovery: Archaeologist find remains of small child
Sledge dogs were respected for their superior genetics (Image: GETTY)
“However, these studies didn't take into account the dogs that were present in the Arctic before the Inuit period.
"Instead they focused on how the Inuit dogs were related to modern sledge dogs, but what we wanted to investigate was how did these Inuit dogs compare to dogs already in North America.