Sunday, October 9, 2011

early domestic dogs: brains punctured and fed mammoth

Check out this story on early domestic dogs. The skulls were punctured, perhaps to release the dogs' spirit, and one of the skulls was found with a mammoth bone in its mouth, perhaps "food for the journey".

I can't get to the original JAS article, so I don't know the date/location of these finds, but they represent 1) another piece of evidence for very early dog domestication (I'm assuming); and 2) another example of the unique relationships we have with other species.

UPDATE: I was able to get to the original article. Here's the citation:
Mietje Germonpré, Martina Lázničková-Galetová, Mikhail V. Sablin, in press, Palaeolithic dog skulls at the Gravettian Předmostí site, the Czech Republic, JAS.

The finds come from the Předmostí site in the Czech Republic, and date to 26-27,000 y BP. What I find interesting about this assemblage is the high number of canid remains, some of which are identified as dog, and others identified as wolf. The authors mention over 1000 mammoths (MNI), and over 4000 canid specimens (NISP), for a MNI of over 100. Since carnivores are not usually such a high percentage of archaeological assemblages, I would be predisposed to consider the site a wolf den. Unfortunately, the skulls come from early excavations that were not well documented, and therefore the context of the skulls identified as dogs, not wolves, are unclear.

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