Dawn of the Dog Article

A dog skull sits on a disk, as scientists prepare to photograph it for geometric morphometrics.

A dog skull sits on a disk, as scientists prepare to photograph it for geometric morphometrics.

A very important and fascinating subject to undertake.  Here’s an interesting new article about the domestication of dogs from Science.

Science Magazine

Greger Larson holds a wolf skull at the Oxford Museum of Natural History (top). Ardern Hulme-Beaman (bottom) examines an ancient dog jawbone (middle).

Dogs were the very first thing humans domesticated—before any plant, before any other animal. Yet despite decades of study, researchers are still fighting over where and when wolves became humans’ loyal companions. “It’s very competitive and contentious,” says Jean-Denis Vigne, a zooarchaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, who notes that dogs could shed light on human prehistory and the very nature of domestication. “It’s an animal so deeply and strongly connected to our history that everyone wants to know.”

PHOTO: ARDERN HULME-BEAMAN, PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE SWEDISH MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY (2)

PHOTO: ARDERN HULME-BEAMAN, PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE SWEDISH MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY (2)

Money proved a great motivator. Though dogs loom large in the public consciousness, they don’t tend to loosen the purse strings of funding organizations. As a result, many scientists work on them as only a hobby or side project, piggybacking on funding from other grants. But Larson and Dobney made a strong case to European funding agencies in 2012, arguing that the domestication of dogs set the stage for taming an entire host of plants and animals. “We said, without dogs you don’t have any other domestication,” Larson says. “You don’t have civilization.”

The skeletons of a human and dog (upper left) discovered underneath a 12,000-year-old home in northern Israel are early evidence of the human-canine bond.

The skeletons of a human and dog (upper left) discovered underneath a 12,000-year-old home in northern Israel are early evidence of the human-canine bond.

For the first time, we’re going to be able to look at some of these strange skulls like the Goyet skull and figure out how strange they really are,” he says. “Are they wolves becoming dogs, or are they just unusual wolves?” Combining the two approaches, he says, should allow the collaboration to home in on just where dogs came from—and when this happened.

“Archaeology is storytelling,” Hulme-Beaman says. “I think we’re going to be able to tell a great story.”

Read the short article HERE or download the full PDF HERE.

Reference: Science 17 April 2015:
Vol. 348 no. 6232 pp. 274-279
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6232.274

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About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
This entry was posted in Archaeology, canis, dogs and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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