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Mammoth megasites and early domestication of dogs



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A recent paper and news items on a speculative topic that may be of interest...



http://news.psu.edu/story/317201/2014/05/29/research/domestication-dogs-may-explain-large-numbers-dead-mammoths


http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2014/05/did-dogs-help-drive-mammoths-their-graves?rss=1


Pat Shipman  (2014)
How do you kill 86 mammoths? Taphonomic investigations of mammoth megasites.
Quaternary International (advance online publication)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.04.048
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040618214002729

Abstract

A series of Eurasian archaeological sites formed between about 40 – 15
ka feature unusually large numbers of mammoth remains with abundant
artefacts and, often, mammoth bone dwellings. None of these mammoth
megasites is dated prior to the appearance of modern humans in
Eurasia. This unusual type of site begs for taphonomic explanation.
The large number of individual mammoths and the scarcity of carnivore
toothmarks and gnawing suggest a new ability to retain kill mammoths
and control of carcasses. Age profiles of such mammoth-dominated sites
with a large minimum number of individuals differ statistically at the
p < 0.01 level from age profiles of Loxodonta africana populations
that died of either attritional or catastrophic causes. However, age
profiles from some mammoth sites exhibit a chain of linked
resemblances with each other through time and space, suggesting the
transmission of behavioral or technological innovation. I hypothesize
that this innovation may have been facilitated by an early attempted
domestication of dogs, as indicated by a group of genetically and
morphologically distinct large canids which first appear in
archaeological sites at about 32 ka B.P. (uncal). Testable predictions
of this hypothesis are generated based on ethnographic data.