How do scientists do gene archaeology (re dogs with genital cancer)?

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Offline annie123

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The recent programme on naked genetics talked about dogs with a gene mutation that resulted in genital cancer, possibly from a gene mutation 11000 years old.

"CTVT first arose in a dog with low genomic heterozygosity that may have lived about 11,000 years ago. The cancer spawned by this individual dispersed across continents about 500 years ago. "

How can this be discovered without artifacts?