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June 2, 2014 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Did dogs help drive mammoths to their graves? Prehistoric dog found with mammoth bone in its mouth. Daisy, a miniature wire-haired dachshund, finds mammoth bone on the beach.
posted by stbalbach (26 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh god. Mammoths or dogs? Don't make me choose!
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:13 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


[picture of a semi-domesticated wolf-dog with "me kill last mammoth" painted on a slab]
posted by Small Dollar at 9:34 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


Of course dogs ruined elephants. Dogs are the worst.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:39 PM on June 2


Don't worry it's a tenuous link from a larger evopsych view. Humans would've killed off all that tasty megafauna anyway. The post is kind of stringing together two different things, but it makes a nice link to think about dogs eyeing tasty mammoth bones across the aeons, though.
posted by planetesimal at 10:43 PM on June 2


Can't tell if sarcasm, hal_c_on.

Are you going for: "Oh yeah, let's totally blame dogs because everyone knows they are responsible for most extinctions and are just generally bad."

Or do you really have a beef with dogs?
posted by citizenoftheworld at 11:04 PM on June 2


A friend of mine and I were talking today about this coyote-wolf hybrid that's emerged recently. Evidently the dens of the ones that have ventured into urban territories are sometimes full of stolen dog toys.

It's hard to imagine a wolf pack attacking a mammoth, but not as hard to imagine them gnawing on the leftovers.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:05 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


it's a tenuous link from a larger evopsych view

Haha you know evopsych isn't real, right?

For what it's worth, having taken a ton of archaeology classes in college, this rings pretty true from what we know about megafauna die-offs, how paleolithic humans hunted large game, and the domestication of dogs. In fact I'm not sure why the links present it as super controversial research.
posted by Sara C. at 11:31 PM on June 2


Dog couldn't have done that. Cats, though? Cats are vicious.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:53 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


Shipman speculates that the mammoth megasites may be the first significant evidence of a cooperative relationship between man and dog. The canines could have corralled the mammoths at the ambush sites and held the prey in place while human hunters moved in for the kill, Shipman says. Once the mammoths were dead, the dogs could have protected the sites from scavengers. “All of that mammoth meat would have brought predators from miles around,” she says. In return, the humans may have provided these canines with food and protection. And slowly, a closer relationship may have begun to form.
I think speculates is the operative term. Humans have herded Buffalo off of cliffs. Humans and dogs have hunted together for centuries.

Too many coulds and mays for the evidence provided.


"Haha you know evopsych isn't real, right?"

Acutally evopsych is real, it's just abused by some.
posted by vapidave at 11:56 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


"See aliens? It wasn't us! It was those four-legged bastards. They're the one you want!"
posted by codswallop at 12:08 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


re Daisy and the mammoth bone: "She just stood there looking at it."

Uncanny! This is exactly how my dog would help drive mammoths to their graves.
posted by taz at 12:17 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Dog's *aren't* the worst. At least dogs are honest. If it was cats, they would just employ psychological torture and over time the mammoths would do themselves in to get away from the little bastards.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:07 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Prehistoric Man: Hey, prehistoric dog, help me kill this mammoth and you can eat your weight in mammoth bones.

Prehistoric Dog: I just met you, and I love you.
posted by eriko at 4:36 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


Dog's *aren't* the worst. At least dogs are honest. If it was cats, they would just employ psychological torture and over time the mammoths would do themselves in to get away from the little bastards.

Maybe pigs did it.

"Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal." - Winston Churchill
posted by neilb449 at 4:39 AM on June 3


Evidently the dens of the ones that have ventured into urban territories are sometimes full of stolen dog toys.

"It rubs the kibble on its skin, or it gets the hose again."

But like SaraC says, people have been hunting with dogs for a long time, and if you are going to go out hunting mammoths you would want every advantage possible.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:30 AM on June 3


citizenoftheworld: "Or do you really have a beef with dogs?"

I don't presume to speak for hal_c_on, but I read it as sarcastic, a la THANKS OBAMA.
posted by notsnot at 5:57 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Probably. Dogs are pretty good.
posted by Drexen at 6:48 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]



Did dogs help drive mammoths to their graves?

Let's ask 'em:

Did you kill off the mammoths? Well, did you?

I dunno, they're looking pretty guilty to me.
 
posted by Herodios at 6:57 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


> Haha you know evopsych isn't real, right? For what it's worth, having taken a ton of archaeology classes in college,

Uh, I didn't say that it was, and was making a point that that was a tenuous link that was being spun into its own story. There's no archaeological evidence for dogs in the fist link. But of course we defer to your superior knowledge about this from your tons of undergrad courses.
posted by planetesimal at 7:07 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


*runs off to make dog shaming photo of her late dachshund with "I killed off the mammoths" on it*
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:31 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Your favorite domesticated mammal sucks.
posted by univac at 9:51 AM on June 3


There's no archaeological evidence for dogs in the fist link.

If you read the first link, there actually is. Semi-domesticated dog-wolf bones were also found with the mammoth bones at the Ukrainian megasite.

Of course, the article is poorly written in that the interviewer clearly asked the author of the study for some kind of hypothetical model of exactly how early humans would have used these dogs for hunting mammoth, and she speculated something that sounded vaguely archaeologically plausible with lots of weasel words because obviously she wasn't there and doesn't know.

But yeah it seems pretty clear to me from just the most basic facts about archaeology that:

A) Humans began domesticating dogs ~35,000 years ago

B) Humans hunted large mammals in that period by cornering them and killing them in ways that aren't brute strength/with weapons. (Pushing them off cliffs, surrounding them with fire, all kinds of creative stuff)

C) There is a clear archaeological record of megafauna die-offs in the Old World right around the time that humans start doing all kinds of other modern human stuff (art, religion, domesticating dogs), and in the New World basically as soon as humans get there. It's looking more and more certain that humans were responsible for these die-offs.

So, no, it's not surprising that archaeologists are finding domesticated dog bones at archaeological sites related to mass die-offs, and that they're also finding that these deaths probably weren't naturally occurring.

I don't really understand what "evopsych" says that refutes any of this, and if there is some essential fact of that pseudoscience that does refute it, said essential fact is pretty obviously wrong.

"Dogs To Blame For Mammoth Extinction" is probably a bit much, though. Surely the humans would have accomplished it even if the dogs weren't interested.
posted by Sara C. at 9:54 AM on June 3


There is a clear archaeological record of megafauna die-offs in the Old World right around the time that humans start doing all kinds of other modern human stuff (art, religion, domesticating dogs)

Art made the mammoths extinct?

Aye. There's your story, boys. T'was beauty killed the beasts!
 
posted by Herodios at 10:40 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Jeez, no. It's just, we clearly started being capable of doing bigger stuff in a lot of different areas, right around the same time. Whether that's killing all the mammoths, proto-domestication of a few species, inventing art, whatever.

My best guess as someone with an undergrad degree in anthropology is that something happened in our brains that allowed for abstract thought, which enabled us to do a lot of different stuff we weren't doing before, relatively quickly.

But yeah, sure, in certain ways, abstract thought (and possibly language?) killed the mammoths.
posted by Sara C. at 10:58 AM on June 3


My best guess as someone with an undergrad degree in anthropology is that something happened in our brains that allowed for abstract thought

Chomsky got there first, so maybe let's keep it in check.
posted by planetesimal at 11:02 AM on June 3


Mammoth? Mammoth come at dark. Me wait.
posted by zaelic at 5:47 AM on June 4


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