An international team of scientists has identified what it believes is the world’s first known dog, and says that it lived in Belgium 31,700 years ago — a good 17,000 years earlier than what was previously thought to be the earliest dog, found in Russia.
The prehistoric dog’s remains were excavated at Goyet Cave in Belgium, suggesting to the researchers that the Aurignacian people of Europe from the Upper Paleolithic period were the first to domesticate dogs, the Discovery Channel reports.
“The most remarkable difference between these dogs and recent dog breeds is the size of the teeth,” lead author Mietje Germonpre told Discovery News, comparing the tooth size more to wolves than dogs.
The scientists say — based on Isotopic analysis of the bones found – that the earliest dogs subsisted on horse, musk ox and reindeer.
Germonpre, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, said the Paleolithic dogs most resemble the Siberian husky, but were somewhat larger.
For the study, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the scientists analyzed 117 skulls of recent and fossil large members of the Canidae family, which includes dogs, wolves and foxes.
Germonpre believes dog domestication might have begun when the prehistoric hunters killed a female wolf and then brought home her pups.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 17th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: archaeology, aurignacian, belgium, breeds, canidae, discovery, dogs, domestication, fossils, germonpre, goyet cave, news, origin, paleolithic, paleontology, prehistoric dog, russia, science, scientists, skulls, wolves, world's first dog