A University of Maine graduate student says he has found a bone fragment from what he believes is the earliest domesticated dog ever found in the Americas — one that walked the continent 9,400 years ago.
And where he found it — ensconced in a dried-out sample of human waste — gives proof that eating dog was part of America’s culture, at least before America was America.
Graduate student Samuel Belknap III came across the fragment while analyzing a sample of human waste unearthed in the 1970s. Carbon-dating placed the age of the bone at 9,400 years, and a DNA analysis confirmed it came from a dog — as opposed to a wolf, coyote or fox.
The Associated Press reports that the fragment — which was the dark orange color characteristic of bone that has passed through the digestive track — was found in Hinds Cave in southwest Texas.
The fragment provides the earliest evidence that dogs were eaten by humans in North America, and may have been bred as a food source, he said.
Belknap was studying the diet and nutrition of the people in the Lower Pecos region of Texas between 1,000 and 10,000 years ago when he came across the bone.
Belknap and other researchers from the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma’s molecular anthropology laboratories, where the DNA analysis was done, have written a paper on their findings, scheduled for publication in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology later this year.
The fragment is about six-tenths of an inch long and three- to four-tenths of an inch wide. Belknap said he and a fellow student identified the bone as a fragment from where the skull connects with the spine. He said it came from a dog that probably resembled the small short-haired dogs that were common among the Indians of the Great Plains.
Other archaeological findings have found evidence of domestic dogs in the U.S. as long as 8,000 years ago.
A 1980s study reported dog bones found at Danger Cave, Utah, were between 9,000 and 10,000 years old, but those dates were based on an analysis of the surrounding rock laters as opposed to carbon dating. In Idaho, researchers believed they’d found 11,000-year-old dog bones, but later tests showed them to be no more than 3,000 years old.
Worldwide, studies have found evidence of dogs going back 31,000 years from a site in Belgium, 26,000 years in the Czech Republic and 15,000 years in Siberia.
The earliest dogs in North America are believed to have come with the early settlers across the Bering land bridge from Asia.
Belknap said eating dogs was once common in Central America, and that some Great Plain Indian tribes ate dogs when food was scarce or for celebrations.
”It was definitely an accepted practice among many populations,” he said.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, analysis, anthropology, archaeology, ate, bone, carbon dating, diet, digested, dna, dog, domesticated, earliest, eaten, evidence, excrement, first, fragment, hinds cave, human, indians, nutrition, oldest, research, samuel belknap, study, texas, university of maine, waste
Since Ace was the first dog in America to see the sun rise (above) — back on Oct. 3, when we were on the other side of the country – I thought it would be fitting for him to be the last dog to see it set as we make our way down the west coast.
On the road, I called my son on my cell phone and asked him to look it up on the Internet. Thirty minutes later, he called back with the answer, or at least one of them — Cape Blanco, Oregon.
That was back when I was still in the state of Washington, and I’d filed it away in the back of my mind (translation: I’d all but forgotten about it) until, while driving south down Highway 101 in Oregon, I saw a sign for Cape Blanco State Park.
Where have I heard of that before, I wondered. You know how you can set your computer to delete your Internet history when you log off? That’s kind of how my brain works sometimes.
Five more minutes down the road, it registered, and I decided to seek out a motel in Port Orford, and drive back up to the park around sunset time.
Suitable lodgings eluded us though (more on that bizarre episode tomorrow), so Ace and I killed some time sniffing around Port Orford before heading to the park, hoping the clouds and drizzle might clear up enough to see some sign of a sun setting.
We turned off 101 and followed the road, past the park and towards the Cape Blanco lighthouse until the road — and seemingly the continent — came to an end.
And as — we can only guess — the sun went down, here is what we saw:
I got only close enough to the edge to see that it dropped off pretty severely, but I could see nothing more than the vague outline of a huge rock in the ocean, or at least what I thought was the ocean.
As for Ace — our visit to Niagara Falls still in the front of my mind – I kept him on a very short leash and right at my side, fearing he might venture into oblivion, or pull me into it. In the thick fog, it was a scary place — and maybe it is in the light of day too, like something you’d see in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Two people would get into an argument at the edge, and pretty soon you’d only see one.
Here’s what the cape looks like in the cloud- and fog-free light of day:
But not all agree with that — or even with the contention that Cape Blanco is the westernmost point in the contiguous 48. Some say Cape Alaya in Washington is westernmoster.
Apparently, the confusion is caused by land shifts and measurement anomalies and whether the measurements are taken at high tide or low tide.
One can tour the Cape Blanco lighthouse between April 1 and Oct. 31, and, for a fee, climb the three flights of stairs and one ladder to the tower.
This isolated lighthouse holds at least four Oregon records: it is the oldest continuously operating light, the most westerly, has the highest focal plane above the sea, and employed Oregon’s first female lighthouse keeper.
And it’s a great place to see sunsets.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 48, acadia national park, ace, america, american, animals, cadillac mountain, cape blanco, coast, coastal oregon, contiguous, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, first, last, lighthouse, location, oregon, pets, place, port alaya, port orford, road trip, state park, states, sunrise, sunset, tourism, travel, travels with ace, viewing, washington, west coast, westernmost
Ace was the first dog in America to see the sun rise yesterday.
Atop Cadillac Mountain, the highest elevation in Acadia National Park, we sat on a broad flat rock and saw the sun pop up over the Atlantic Ocean.
Once we heard that, upon our arrival in Bar Harbor, Maine, we decided to rise early enough to catch the sun doing the same.
Granted, the period during which the sun rises here first doesn’t start for three more days. And granted, there were at least 100 other early risers scattered across the rocks yesterday morning. But as far as I could see, Ace was the only dog. So, while I can’t make the claim, I am relatively certain that Ace was the first dog in America to have the sun in his face on Oct. 3, 2010.
And it being a chilly morning, we were both appreciative when, around 6:30, it appeared.
Mount Desert Island is my new favorite place: a collection of towns and harbors — some way ritzy, some semi ritzy, a few slightly more working class — all nestled in and around Acadia National Park, which is now tied (with Glacier) for my favorite National Park. It’s a place whose breathtaking beauty hits you at nearly every turn, and seeing it in fall at least doubles the pleasure.
We’re staying at the home of a relative of a friend, and she and her husband couldn’t be more gracious. They fed me, took me on a tour and, upon learning I wanted to be the first person to see the sunrise, prepared coffee for my thermos, programmed and loaned me their GPS and equipped me with a handful of maps and brochures.
(I still managed to get lost, until I finally gave in and submitted to the exact orders of the GPS voice … and may I say, despite all my errors, she never once got cross with me.)
Even kinder were Ron and Karen Greenberg, who own two cats, two horses and Tamarind, a natural food restaurant in Bar Harbor, and who were my hosts for the weekend – showing me the park, the town, their restaurant – and of course a dog park — on a sunset tour the first night I was there.
Getting back to their unlit house that night, it was pitch dark. I got out of the car and, at Karen’s suggestion, looked up. I saw more stars than I’d ever seen before –- an astonishing number of stars, the night sky as its supposed to look without all our sources of light polluting our reception.
It was a magnificent sight, and never have I felt “one-er” with the universe – at once so whole and so tiny. Maybe if everybody could see the sky like that at night, we’d all have a better appreciation for our miniscule place in the universe, a deeper love for our planet and less of an inclination to mess it up.
That “planet-love” feeling returned the next morning, when, with a steamy cup of coffee beside me, I waited quietly with other spectators, watching as the sky turned a brilliant orange, and the ocean a brilliant blue in the minutes before the sun peeked over the horizon -– bigger, brighter and more orange than I’d ever seen it.
Once it rose, the crowd quickly dispersed. Ace and I climbed around on the rocks for a bit, to avoid the crowd on the trip down the mountain. That – since it was too dark to see much going up — was a scenic treat as well, with spectacular views of the ocean, coves and inlets, and valleys still filled with morning mist.
In case you’re wondering, the mountain is not named after the car; the car is named after the mountain, or at least the car is named after the guy the mountain is named after – Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the Frenchman who was granted possession of what’s now called Mount Desert Island in the late 1600’s by King Louis XIV.
He later went on to found Detroit, according to a plaque on Cadillac Mountain — though why he would leave this place for that one is beyond me.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acadia national park, animals, appears, bar harbor, cadillac mountain, coast, coastal, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, elevation, first, highest, karen greenberg, maine, mount desert island, national parks, new england, pets, road trip, ron greenberg, sun, tourism, travel, travels with ace
It might not have all the fancy features some doggie playgrounds do — or for that matter even running water — but the city of Memphis is finally getting around to opening its first official dog park this weekend.
The Division of Park Services announced they will open their first dog park Saturday. It’s located at 2599 Avery Avenue, behind the Board of Education.
The off-leash fenced in park has an area designated for dogs under 25 pounds and an adjoining one for dogs over 25 pounds.
Hours of operation for the park will be 6 a.m to 8 p.m. in the summer, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter.
“The Memphis Dog Park is something that we have been wanting to provide to the citizens of Memphis for some time,” said Cindy Buchanan, Director of Park Services.
The city’s first dog park will serve as a test site for future projects, Fox News in Memphis reported.
All dogs must be licensed and vaccinated, and each owner is responsible for the behavior and action of their dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, dog, dog park, dog parks, dogs, first, memphis, news, off-leash, ohmidog!, parks, pets, recreation, tennessee, unleashed, water
Coming up on his first birthday, Scooby-Roo has come a long way since he was found five months ago — with no front legs, living with his sister in a wrecked car in a gang-ridden neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
His first break came when a good samaritan picked him and his sister up. His second came when they were taken in by Fuzzy Rescue. Since then, his story has led to offers of help from Demi Moore, Alyssa Milano, Michael Jackson’s children and many others.
Today, still under the care of Fuzzy Rescue, he has a therapist and a personal trainer and can look forward to a masseuse and acupuncturist, the Associated Press reports.
Not long after Roo arrived at Fuzzy Rescue in Santa Monica — caked in blood from scooting around on the asphalt — the non-profit organization’s director, Sheila Choi send out mass emails looking for donations and other support.
After that, celebrities began tweeting about Roo, from Demi Moore to Shannon Elizabeth. Alyssa Milano saw a YouTube video of the dog and called Choi, promising to help any way she could. Michael Jackson’s children, Prince and Paris, saw a TV report about Roo and began raising money to help out.
With the celebrity help, Choi collected $2,000 for a set of custom wheels for Roo, who is believed to have been born without legs.
On Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough, this sweetheart of a dog turns one.
Here’s an updated report on Scooby-Roo from Fuzzy Rescue:
Posted by John Woestendiek February 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, alyssa milano, animals, birthday, celebrities, challenged, demi moore, dog, dogs, emails, first, front legs, fuzzy rescue, gangs, handicapped, legs, los angeles, michael jackson, missing, paris, pets, prince, rescue, roo, santa monica, scooby-roo, shannon elizabeth, sheila choi, south central, therapist, trainer, tweets, twitter, two-legged, valentines day
In case you didn’t know, Bob Dylan recorded his first-ever Christmas album this year — featuring mostly traditional favorites, sung mostly traditionally. And then there’s this raucous number: “Must be Santa.”
The album, Dylan’s 47th, is called “Christmas In The Heart.” All of Dylan’s royalties from the album are being donated to Feeding America and other international charities.
“It’s a tragedy that more than 35 million people in this country alone – 12 million of those children – often go to bed hungry and wake up each morning unsure of where their next meal is coming from,” Dylan says on his website. “I join the good people of Feeding America in the hope that our efforts can bring some food security to people in need during this holiday season.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 23rd, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: album, bob dylan, children, christmas, christmas in the heart, dylan, feeding, feeding america, first, hunger, hungry, music, must be santa, ohmidog!, song, video
The first case of a dog contracting swine flu has been confirmed by veterinarians in White Plains, N.Y.
The H1N1 influenza was found in a 13-year-old mixed-breed male who is now recovering, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The virus has previously been been found in other pets, including several cats and ferrets, all of which are suspected to have contracted the disease from their owners or handlers.
These incidents “are not a reason to be concerned,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “A rare occurrence in other species is not a problem.”
The symptoms of flu in pets are the same as they are in humans: fever, lethargy, runny nose, lack of appetite, coughing and sneezing.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 22nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, canine, case, centers for disease control, confirmed, disease, dog, dogs, first, h1n1, health, influenza, new york, pets, swine flu, veterinarian, veterinary, white plains
“Pedigree Dogs Exposed, ” the controversial BBC documentary that shed some much needed light on purebred breeding practices and the horrors they have produced, will get its first airing in the U.S. tonight (Dec. 10).
Probably the single most important piece of dog reporting in the past decade, the documentary led to the BBC dropping its coverage of Crufts, the UK’s equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show.
The documentary looks at how many breeds have had their physical appearance so exaggerated they’re unrecognizable from a century ago, and it examines some of the breed-specific health problems that have resulted from breeders emphasizing looks over health when breeding dogs for shows.
The show, which led to some changes in Kennel Club and breeder policies and practices, airs at 8 p.m. tonight on BBC America.
The documentary revealed that dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in breed”, despite their poor health. It says physical traits required by the Kennel Club’s breed standards in the U.K., such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, have led to inherent health problems.
This excerpt from the program shows a prize-winning cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition which occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.
The documentary looks at other problems that have resulted from mating dogs who are close relatives, all for the purposes of accentuating certain physical features deemed desirable by the dog show crowd — boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth unassisted because their heads are so big.
While picked up here and there by the U.S. media, the story of shaping purebred dogs to fit arbitrary human standards of beauty — despite the health ramifications – remains best told by the BBC documentary. By all means, watch it.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bbc, bbc america, boxers, breeders, breeding, breeds, bulldog, cavalier king charles spaniel, crufts, documentary, dog, dog shows, dogs, expose, first, genetic, health, illness, inbreeding, kennel club, pedigree dogs exposed, pets, physical features, practices, premier, problems, pugs, showing, united kingdom, united states, westminster
The first cases in the world of H1N1 influenza virus in dogs have been reported in Beijing, according to the China Daily News.
The virus found was a 99-percent match for the flu currently infecting humans, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, which announced the canine infection on Saturday. The infection is believed to have been passed to the dogs by infected people. Health officials in China assure that infected dogs are “no risk to humans”
While dogs are susceptible to their own form of influenza virus, called canine influenza, the cases in China are the first documented ones of the H1N1 virus strain, or swine flu, infecting canines, according to Examiner.com
Canine influenza virus is said not to be transmissible to people, though it is easily passed from dog to dog.
The H1N1 virus has been found in many species, including pigs, ferrets, cats and people.
Officials stated the virus will become a threat to people only if it mutates.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beijing, canine, canine flu, cases, china, dogs, first, h1n1, health, influenza, swine, swine flu, veterinarian, veterinary, virus
Scores of dogs were unhooked from their leashes and frolicked in new-found freedom today as the long-awaited Locust Point Dog Park was officially opened – the first city-built dog park in Baltimore.
Not far from where the rockets red glared, and the bombs bursted in air, Mayor Sheila Dixon cut the ribbon and swung open the gates to the new fenced-in, off-leash dog area at Latrobe Park.
Pugs, Viszlas, retrievers, bulldogs, sheepdogs, boxers, pit bulls, Labradors and a motley mix of mutts then did what dogs do best: rejoiced in the open space.
“Who let the dogs out?” Mayor Dixon asked the crowd gathered for Locust Point’s Star Spangled Festival. “…Now we know the answer.”
Except for Canton Dog Park, paid for and built by a citizen’s group, the Locust Point Dog Park is — for now — the only other area in the city where dogs can run off-leash. The city is also looking at establishing off-leash areas during designated hours at four other city parks.
Use of both will require a special $20 license, available from Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS).
The park features an artificial turf hill, a giant tree and stump, and a sunken water trough in which dogs can drink and play. What did the dogs think of it?
Here’s a look:
(Photos: by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: baltimore, dog, dogs, first, latrobe park, leash free, locust point, locust point dog park, mayor, news, off-leash, ohmidog!, opening, park, photos, sheila dixon, unleashed, video