Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Palaeolithic and prehistoric dogs and Pleistocene wolves from Yakutia: Identification of isolated skulls

Mietje Germonpré , Sergey Fedorov, Petr Danilov, Patrik Galeta, Elodie-Laure Jimenez, Mikhail Sablin, Robert J. Losey
Journal of Archaeological Science
Vol. 78, 2017

Fig. 1. Map of northern Eurasia with the most important sites discussed in the text: 1: Badyarikha River, 2: Tirekhtyakh River, 3: Ulakhan Sular, 4: Malyia Lyakhovsky Island, 5: Razboinichya cave, 6: Shamanka, 7: Berelekh, 8: Nikita lake site, 9: Dyuktai Cave, 10: Afontova Gora, 11: Verholenskaya Gora, 12: Ust’Khaita, 13: Ushki, 14: Zhokov Island, 15: Kostienki, 16: Mezhirich, 17: Mezin, 18: Eliseevichi, 19: P redmostí, 20: Goyet, 21: Trou des Nutons, 22: Maldidier, 23: Anabar District (map: OpenStreetMap).


Four isolated canid skulls from four sites (Badyarikha River, Tirekhtyakh River, Ulakhan Sular, Malyi Lyakhovsky Island) in the Sakha Republic of northern Siberia are here described. Three specimens date from the Pleistocene and range in age from more than 50,000 years to about 17,200 years old, the fourth specimen is about 950 years old. The Yakutian canid skulls are compared with Palaeolithic dogs, recent Northern dogs, Pleistocene wolves and recent Northern wolves by multivariate analyses of standardized cranial measurements in order to determine with which reference group they have the closest affinity. These analyses permitted to identify the Tirekhtyakh River specimen as a Pleistocene wolf. The Ulakhan Sular specimen resembles the Palaeolithic dogs and the Malyi Lyakhvosky specimen the recent Northern dogs. The Badyarikha River skull falls in between groups. The archaeological implications of the presence of ancient canid specimens resembling Palaeolithic and early dogs in arctic northeast Asia are discussed.

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