A new study suggests the earliest domestic dogs weren’t just kept for hunting and protection, but for loving — a premise supported by evidence that some prehistoric pet owners actually outfitted their dogs in bling, if not before death, at least after it.
An analysis of ancient dog burials, published in PLoS ONE, found that deceased dogs were often laid to rest not just with respect, but with toys and ornaments, Jennifer Viegas reports on Discovery.com.
The findings show that, at least as recently as 10,000 years ago, dogs were valued for more than their ability to stand sentry and track game.
The researchers also say the earliest dog lovers were fish-eaters, and held spiritual beliefs. Subsisting on diets rich in seafood, they apparently didn’t rely on dogs to help them find dinner, or as dinner.
“Dog burials appear to be more common in areas where diets were rich in aquatic foods because these same areas also appear to have had the densest human populations and the most cemeteries,” Robert Losey, lead author of the study told Discovery News.
“If the practice of burying dogs was solely related to their importance in procuring terrestrial game, we would expect to see them in the Early Holocene (around 9,000 years ago), when human subsistence practices were focused on these animals,” Losey, a University of Alberta anthropologist, added. “Further, we would expect to see them in later periods in areas where fish were never really major components of the diet and deer were the primary focus, but they are rare or absent in these regions.”
For the study, Losey’s team researched dog burials worldwide, but focused particularly on ones located in Eastern Siberia. The earliest known domesticated dog was found there, dating to 33,000 years ago. Dog burials in the region are more recent, going back about 10,000 years.
They found that dogs were sometimes buried with meaningful items, sometimes even their human, showing that man’s bond with dog — while it may be ever-strengthening — goes way, way back.
According to the Discovery report:
“…One dog, for example, was laid to rest “much like it is sleeping.” A man was buried with two dogs, one carefully placed to the left of his body, and the other to the right. A dog was buried with a round pebble, possibly a toy or meaningful symbol, placed in its mouth. Still other dogs were buried with ornaments and implements, such as spoons and stone knives.
“One of the most interesting burials contains a dog wearing a necklace made out of four red deer tooth pendants. Such necklaces appear to have been a fashion and/or symbolic trend at the time, since people wore them too.”
The researchers found that most of the dog burials in the area occurred during the Early Neolithic era, about 8,000 years ago.
(Photo by Robert Losey, via Discovery.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bling, burial, death, dog, dogs, domesticated, earliest, fish, grieving, man, mourning, pets, prehistoric, research, robert losey, seafood, siberia, spirituality, study, univerisity of alberta, wolf
The wolf-dog hybrid that was calling Philadelphia’s Pennypack Park home is settling into his new quarters at a sanctuary in Lititz.
Levi, now renamed Liberty, is believed to have been roaming Philadelphia from March until his capture by state wildlife officers on July 3. He was introduced to the news media Tuesday.
About 10 months old, he’ll live the rest of his life at the 22-acre Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary, a private, nonprofit licensed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The animal’s former owner, Kasey Lyons, came forward after seeing news reports about a wolf-like animal roaming the city park. He said he bought the dog for his girlfriend in Florida, and that they lost him during a visit to the park in March.
Lacking a permit for the hybrid — required in Pennsylvania — he agreed to relinquish ownership after Levi was captured.
Despite some health problems, sanctuary caretaker Darin Tompkins said of Liberty, “he’s actually doing very well.”
Sanctuary officials say, as a result of his four months of wandering, Liberty contracted Lyme disease, is at least 25 pounds underweight and also has bordatella.
Tompkins said Liberty will eventually be introduced to some of the 44 other wolves and hybrids at the sanctuary.
While he’s known to show his dog side — officials say he took dog toys from some homes in the park area before he was captured — he could become more wolfish when he starts living among others of his ilk.
“Liberty is used to humans, but he can’t trust them,” Tompkins said. “You can’t blame him.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog, dogs, hybrid, levi, liberty, lititz, pennsylvania, pennypack park, pets, philadelphia, sanctuary, Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary, wolf
The wolfish-looking creature who lurked for months in Pennypack Park has been caught, and it is indeed Levi, a Malamute-wolf mix that escaped when his Florida owner was visiting Philadelphia earlier this year.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission said the wolf-dog hybrid was captured using hot dogs and foothold traps, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The animal is believed to be a wolf-Alaskan malamute mix that was purchased as a pet in Florida and escaped when his owners were visiting in March.
The wolf-dog attacked no one during that time.
About a week ago, Game Commission officials began trying to catch the canine at the park in Northeast Philadelphia park, using traps, nets, snare poles, sedative-laced hot dogs and tranquilizing darts.
On Monday night, wildlife agents set foothold traps, one of which went off around 3:15 a.m. today. They followed the dog’s yelps. The dog was briefly aggressive as it was being put in a cage, said Jerry Czech, of the game commission, but he soon calmed down.
“He laid there, unfazed, did not growl, kick, spit, anything,” Czech said.
The wolf hybrid was taken to the Wolf Sanctuary near Lititz in Lancaster County, a 22-acre woodland refuge for wolves and wolf-hybrids. Wolf-dog hybrids are legal in Pennsylvania only with a special permit.
He believes the animal is Levi, whose owner, Kasey Lyons, searched for him at the park after seeing reports about the mystery dog on Philly.com.
Lyons bought the dog for his then-fiancee for Valentine’s Day. While visiting from Florida, they let the animal off leash in the park and lost him.
Lyons, who has since broken up with his girlfriend and moved back to Philadelphia, could be fined for transporting and possessing a wolf-hybrid without a permit, but Czech said his cooperation with officials will be taken into account.
(Photo: Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaskan malamute, animals, captured, caught, dog, dogs, game commission, hybrid, kasey lyons, levi, lititz, malamute, mix, pennsylvania, pennypack park, pets, philadelphia, trapped, wolf, wolf dog, wolf dog hybrid, wolf sanctuary
That wolf-like creature that state wildlife officials are trying to capture in Philadelphia’s Pennypack Park may be somebody’s pet.
Kasey Lyons, 21, says it looks a lot like Levi, the timber wolf-Alaskan malamute mix he bought in Florida on Valentine’s Day for his then-fiancee. (That’s him above in his street clothes.)
A month later, while visiting Lyons’ mother, the couple lost the dog in Pennypack Park. Lyons placed ads and put up posters, but to no avail, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Tuesday night, Lyons saw a photo of the animal (left) and a story about the mystery creature on Philly.com.
He says it looked just like Levi, whose name is the same as Lyons’ middle one.
On Wednesday evening, Lyons searched a section of Pennypack Park where the animal had been spotted repeatedly over several months, bringing along Levi’s old leash, and his other dog, Tiny, a Lab-bulldog mix.
Lyons was living in Florida when he got the hybrid pup. He and then-fiancee Brittany Hopkin were training Levi when, according to Lyons, she let him loose and the hybrid ran off.
The couple have since broken up. Lyons lives in Philadelphia now, and Hopkin has relocated to Georgia.
Still, he wants to find the dog and return him to her. In Pennsylvania, though, one needs a special permit to own a hybrid wolf-dog. While Lyons says he bought the dog legally, for $400, in Florida and has papers and receipts, he doesn’t hold a permit.
Jerry Czech, a wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said the wolf-dog, once found, would have to be forfeited.
(Photos: Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, capture, dog, dogs, fiancee, gift, hybrid, kasey lyons, levi, lost, malamute, mix, officials, park, pennypack, pets, philadelphia, trap, valentines day, wandering, wildlife, wolf
The animal, most likely a wolf hybrid that escaped or was abandoned, started showing up at the park about three months ago.
Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser said that, though the animal hasn’t attacked anyone, they are taking the situation seriously.
“Any animal that has wild instincts does have the potential to be aggressive,” he said.
Whether it’s a wolf-dog hybrid won’t be known for certain until DNA can be tested, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Feaser cautioned residents to stay away, and not to feed the creature.
Staff from the Wolf Sanctuary in Lititz, Pa., were also attempting to capture the creature, which “got a little wobbly” after eating a hot dog they provided, laced with tranquilizers. Whenever anyone got close though, the animal retreated into the woods.
Sharon Newman Ehrlich, a high school biology teacher who lives near the park and has seen the creature several times, said it seemed “very docile, not dangerous at all.”
When it approached her lhasa apso-poodle mix, all it did was take a sniff.
(Photo: Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, darts, dog, dogs, game commission, hybrid, pennsylvania, pennypack park, pets, philadelphia, tranquilizer, traps, wildlife, wolf, wolf dog, wolf dog hybrid, wolf sanctuary
A new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that charting the DNA of modern dog breeds doesn’t likely hold the answer.
The study, authored by 20 scientists, concluded that testing the DNA of today’s dogs does not “get us any closer to understanding where and when and how dogs were domesticated.”
According to Greger Larson at the University of Durham in England, the DNA of modern dogs is so mixed up that it is useless in figuring out when and where dogs originated. Only with the analysis of DNA from fossilized dogs, now underway, will the answers be found, he says.
Larson and colleagues took DNA from 1,375 dogs of 121 breeds, and 19 wolves in connection with the study.
While it’s still unclear what, if any, breeds can rightfully be called “ancient,” the study did find six breeds the were labeled basal — the basenji, shar-pei, Saluki, Akita, Finnish spitz and Eurasier, according to the New York Times. That means their DNA was less mixed.
Among the dog breeds most commonly mentioned as ancient, or at least closest to their ancient predecessors are basenji, shar-pei, shiba inu, chow chow, Afghan hound, saluki, Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute, lhasa apso and samoyed.
Reports the Times:
“Just as DNA from Neanderthals has helped illuminate the origins of modern humans, DNA from ancient dog fossils should help illuminate the story of early dog domestication in the next few years.
“We’re not a million miles away,” said Larson. “We’re close.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ancient, animals, breeds, dna, dog, dogs, domestication, fossilized, fossils, genetic, greger larson, modern, national academy of sciences, origin, pets, study, testing, university of durham, wolf
At least that’s how your dog sees you, says Scientific American.
Unlike their wolfish ancestors, who hunted for their food, domestic dogs have become socially attached to humans, and see us as the route to dinner. Hence, those long, soulful – and, we must insist, no matter what scientists say, loving – stares we get when feeding time comes near.
To which we, being tools, generally respond.
Scientific American takes a look at how wolves and dogs have come to differ — when it comes to the source of dinner and more — in the 15,000 or more years since the domestic dog came into being.
The article focuses on a study done several years ago at Eotvos University in Budapest — aimed at determining whether the differences between dogs and wolves, socially and cognitively, were primarily genetic or experiential.
Scientists hand-raised a group of dog puppies and a group of wolf pups, starting six days after they were born.
For the first months of their lives, the wolf and dog pups were in close contact with human foster parents. They lived in the homes of their caregivers and slept with them at night. They were bottle-fed, and then hand-fed, and the human caregivers carried them in a pouch so that both wolf and dog pups could participate in as much of their daily activities as possible.
Both dogs and wolves traveled on public transportation, attended classes, and had extensive experience meeting unfamiliar humans.
At 9 weeks of age, plates of food were shown to both the wolf and dog pups. But the only way either could get it was to have eye contact with the human experimenters.
After the first minute, the dogs began to look at the humans. The wolves never seemed to catch on, staying focused on the food they couldn’t reach.
“In one sense, this is a remarkable example of tool use. Only in this case, the humans were the tools, and the dogs the tool-users,” the article notes.
In a second experiment, involving opening a bin, dogs spontaneously interacted with humans, while the wolves all but ignored the human caregivers.
“Despite the fact that they had been fully socialized, the wolves treated each of the situations as physical problems rather than social ones. Only rarely did they ever attempt to engage in a communicative problem-solving interaction with a human. It’s not that wolves are unintelligent; it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Wolves are cooperative hunters, skilled at negotiating within their own social networks. It’s just that even after being raised by humans, wolves simply do not see humans as potential social partners.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, cognitive, differences, dog, dogs, domesticated, domestication, experiment, feeding, food, genetics, humans, hunting, interaction, nurture, partners, pets, science, scientific american, social, socialization, society, tool, wolf, wolves
If so, it represents some of the oldest known evidence of dog domestication, according to a recent study in the online journal PloS One.
The Siberian skull, along with equally ancient dog remains found in a cave in Belgium, indicate domestic dogs may have come from more than one ancestor, more than one area, and more than one era — contrary to popular scientific belief.
Researchers say the skull’s shortened snout — not as long and narrow as that of a wolf — is evidence the creature it came from was domesticated.
“Essentially, wolves have long thin snouts and their teeth are not crowded, and domestication results in this shortening of the snout and widening of the jaws and crowding of the teeth,” said Greg Hodgins, a researcher at the University of Arizona’s Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory and co-author of the study. “What’s interesting is that it doesn’t appear to be an ancestor of modern dogs.”
Hodgins suspects even pre-ice age dogs were pets and helpers, as opposed to food sources.
“The dogs are not necessarily providing products or meat. They are probably providing protection, companionship and perhaps helping on the hunt. And it’s really interesting that this appears to have happened first out of all human relationships with animals.”
(Photos by Nikolai D. Ovodov)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: altai mountains, animals, belgium, cave, discovery, dogs, domestic, domestication, found, helpers, humans, hunters, ice age, origin, pets, relationships, science, siberia, skull, species, study, wolf
What happens when you cross a Labrador retriever and a poodle?
You get a Labradoodle.
What happens when you bring together a science writer and a cartoonist?
You get a highly informative and entertaining blog, like the Philadelphia Inquirer’s, Planet of the Apes, which looks at evolution. (And God bless evolution, for, without it, we’d all be reading this through slimy fish eyes.)
Earlier this week, the blog – written by Faye Flam and illustrated by Tony Auth – examined what makes dogs so diverse a species.
Is the diversity a result of evolution, or man’s infernal tinkering?
The answer to why there’s such a range in head shapes, snouts, coats and size — why some dogs are up to 40 times the size of others — may be in DNA.
(DNA, of course, being the answer to just about everything nowadays, with the possible exception of where did I put my car keys.)
Flam turned to Elaine Ostrander, a geneticist who studies dogs at the National Institutes of Health, for some help solving the mystery.
“Ostrander said two possible genetic explanations exist for dog variability. One is that something latent in the DNA of wolves allowed them to be transformed into both Great Danes and dachshunds. Under that view, she said, pushed-in noses and floppy ears and spots were all embedded in the wolf genome.
“The evidence against this, she said, is that we never see wolves born with pug noses or polka dots.
“The other view is that the genes underlying these traits don’t exist in the wolf, but that wolf DNA is very good at spinning out new variants – that it’s particularly ‘plastic.’”
Flam goes on to explain that that “plasticity” may stem from the parts of the DNA that don’t make up the genes, but control how those genes work. Seven percent of the dog’s DNA, for example, is made of strings of code called SINEs that appear to have copied themselves throughout the dog chromosomes.
Between dog generations, SINEs can copy themselves in new spots on the chromosomes. And sometimes, the location of these SINEs can influence traits. Australian shepherds, for example, have blue-gray coats due to the invasion of a SINE into the middle of a gene for coat color.
While SINEs crop up in other animals, including us humans, dogs may be particularly rich in these and related bits of variable and movable DNA, according to Ostander.
In other words, or so it seems to me, when it comes to diversity, it’s just another thing dogs are better at than us.
(Graphic: By Tony Auth / Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeding, breeds, chromosomes, coats, dna, dog, dogs, elaine ostrander, evolution, faye flam, genes, national institutes of health, pets, philadelphia inquirer, planet of the apes, science, shape, sines, size, species, tony auth, wolf
Buying a wolf hybrid has become illegal in Maine, but it’s going to take a while for them to disappear from the state, if they do at all.
The law requires current owners to have the animals neutered and prohibits the purchase of dog-wolf mixes, except by those with special wildlife-in-captivity permits.
The law was passed after concerns arose about a wolf hybrid refuge in Bristol.
“Wolf hybrids are not pets,” said Sen. David Trahan, the bill’s sponsor. “Would people consider bringing a coyote or mountain lion into their home crossed with another cat or another dog?”
Jim Doughty, who operates the Wolf Ledge Refuge in Bristol, says the law is misguided and unfairly brands the animals.
“Any animal, no matter whether it’s a pure wolf or a Chihuahua or a pug or anything else, depends on the person and how they raise it,” he said. “It’s the same thing with your kids. If you’re abusive toward your kids, they’re not going to be so good. If you work with them, they’ll be great.”
According to an Associated Press article, forty states forbid the ownership, breeding and importation of wolf dogs, while others impose some form of regulation upon ownership.
The law doesn’t prevent Doughty from continuing to take in wolf hybrids from people who no longer want them.
Last month, one of Doughty’s animals, Luna, escaped and attacked a chicken next door.
Doughty doesn’t consider wolf hybrids to be dangerous, but said he wouldn’t recommend them for families with small children. He doesn’t think the law will eliminate wolf dogs from Maine.
“Owners are going to list it as another dog,” he said. “The vet might know it and everybody else might know it, but nobody’s going to say a word.”
(Photo: Jim Doughty and a wolf hybrid named Koda; by Kate Collins / Bangor Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ban, bristol, david trahan, dog, dogs, hybrids, illegal, jim doughty, law, maine, ownership, pets, refuge, wolf, wolf dog, wolf hybrids, wolf ledge refuge, wolves