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Man's relationship with his best friend has lasted 32,000 years, with cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers using dogs to carry supplies so that they could save their energy for hunting.
The bond between man and dog arose at around the time Neanderthals began to surrender their dominance over Europe, which had lasted for the previous 250,000 years.
Excavations of early human dwellings suggest the animals were revered by our ancestors, with their teeth adorning jewellery and their images occasionally painted on walls, the Daily Mail reported.
Dogs, which at the time would have been at least the size of German Shepherds, could have helped humans by transporting meat and other supplies from one place to another, removing an energy burden from their masters which would have given them an advantage when hunting.
Pat Shipman, an anthropologist at Penn State university, said: "Animals were not incidental to our evolution into Homo sapiens – They were essential to it. They are what made us human."