While you know Fido is an invaluable member of your family, you may not have known that his prehistoric ancestors were also man's best friend. Penn State archeologist Pat Shipman recently published a study in the journal Quaternary International that supports the hypothesis that dogs were domesticated and used to hunt during the age of the woolly mammoth.
Shipman analyzed the bones of ancient mammoths and noted that the animals must have been hunted. The markings on the bones suggest that humans and their canine counterparts attacked the animals for food, rather than scavenging them after they had died naturally. Shipman also noted that humans domesticated wolves and created better projectile weapons, allowing them to go on the hunt.
"Dogs help hunters find prey faster and more often, and dogs also can surround a large animal and hold it in place by growling and charging while hunters move in. Both of these effects would increase hunting success," Shipman said in a statement.
Not only does the study reveal that people hunted with dogs, but it suggests that the canines guarded food. Wild wolves might try to take the meat a hunter just gathered but the domesticated dogs would protect the food against such predators. Large dogs could even help carry prey back home.
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