The lineages of modern dogs and wolves may have split thousands of years earlier than previously thought.
According to new research, the divergence happened around 27,000 to 40,000 years ago, far ahead of the 11,000 to 16,000-year range that a separate, previous study had estimated.
The results may also indicate that dogs were domesticated much earlier as well, as the team believes this relationship with humans was in place during the split.
Their conclusions are based on a DNA analysis of a rib bone fragment found on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia.
They found that the animal, named the Taimyr wolf, is likely around 35,000 years old with genetic material in between that of a dog and wolf indicating a new species.
The researchers believe the separation between wolves and dogs occurred a few thousand years after the Taimyr split off the ancestral tree.
When comparing the Taimyr with modern day animals, Siberian huskies and Greenland sled dogs seem to be the most strongly related.
Some critics have questioned the researchers' link between the divergence in species and actual domestication.