10 October 2011

Playing fetch in the Palaeolithic

Today's mammoth NOMs brought to you by Discovery News:
The remains of three Paleolithic dogs, including one with a mammoth bone in its mouth, have been unearthed at Předmostí in the Czech Republic, according to a new Journal of Archaeological Science paper.
The remains indicate what life was like for these prehistoric dogs in this region, and how humans viewed canines. The dogs appear to have often sunk their teeth into meaty mammoth bones. These weren’t just mammoth in terms of size, but came from actual mammoths.
In the case of the dog found with the bone in its mouth, the researchers believe a human inserted it there after death.
"The thickness of the cortical bone shows that it is from a large mammal, like a rhinoceros, steppe bison or mammoth," lead author Mietje Germonpré told Discovery News. "At Předmostí, mammoth is the best represented animal, with remains from more than 1,000 individuals, so it is probable that the bone fragment is from a mammoth."
I call that burying Fido properly. These dogs had heads with a similar shape to the Siberian husky, but were larger and more muscular. That's a big dog! It's unusual to find such strong evidence of domestication at such an early date, but being an archaeological optimist, I'm more pleased than surprised. So many of the things that surround us have very deep roots, including throwing bones for your favorite furry critter.

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