Saturday, February 04, 2006


New evidence shows that often dog skeletons lay alongside human ones in ancient times. One of the most extensive surveys of the earliest known dog burials suggests humans domesticated canines between 17,000 and 13,000 years ago. The new study is published in the February issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The earliest known evidence of a dog burial dates to around 17,000 years ago in Russia. But the practice of burying dogs appears to have begun about 15,000 years ago. Burying dogs became more common around 12,000 years ago.

A grave found in what is now Rhode Island contains a prehistoric dog that was arranged to lie on its left side with its front paw under its head. A burial dating from about 6700 years ago in what is now Tennessee was discovered to be unusually old. Its skeleton indicated the animal suffered traumatic injuries, arthritis and other ailments suggesting that the owner insured the safety and well being of the dog since it probably couldn't have survived otherwise. Even today, most dogs are so reliant on humans that they could never fend for themselves in the wild, says Chrityann Darwent, an assistant professor of anthropoloogy at the University of California at Davis.


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