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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dog remains from Epipaleolithic Portugal

As suspected, the dog was already domestic before the Neolithic and that was certainly the case in Europe. This seems confirmed by new findings of dog remains in the shell middens of the Muge area, the main clutural group of pre-Neolithic Portugal.

Cleia Detry and Joao Luis Cardoso, On some remains of dog (Canis familiaris) from the Mesolithic shell-middens of Muge, Portugal. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2010. Pay per view.

Just for the record. Notice that the oldest known dog skeleton is from Aurignacian Belgium although its mtDNA line is now extinct.


terryt said...

In fact I'm beginning to consider the possibility that Late Paleolithic hunting was so effective simply because they had the assistance of dogs. It seems very likely that the first people to America had dogs.

Maju said...

It is possible. But dogs are documented from Aurignacian, so it's not a mere late UP thing.

I actually suspect (but have no clear confirmation) that Magdalenian people had also domestic horses, what greatly helped in their lifestyle too. Horses would have been great for hunting roaming herbivores like bison and wild horse. Just a hypothesis for the late UP.

A more solid explanation would be that they expanded then their sea-based economy, as demonstrated by several recent research instances from the Pyrenees to England and also by the dominant tendencies of derived Epipaleolithic. But sea economy can hardly explain expansion inland, so maybe it's a bit of all.

terryt said...

"But dogs are documented from Aurignacian, so it's not a mere late UP thing".

But they probably got better at co-operating over time. The same would be true of horse domestication. In fact most articles I've read on horse domestiction tend to assume they were herded first for meat, and only later used for transport.

Maju said...

Dog has changed somewhat since domestication but it's essentially an adopted wolf. Wolves are already very good at cooperating in a hierarchized pack naturally. People too (in their own way). I think it's a very natural sort of symbiosis.