Primitive Mammoth Hunters and the Earliest Breed of Dog

Author(s) :Petr N. Kolosov

East siberia. Locations: ■—Man settlement in Yana river mouth; ▲—site of discovery of dog skulls along Rassokha river; ●— Berelekh mammoth “cemetery”.
East siberia. Locations: ■—Man settlement in Yana river
mouth; ▲—site of discovery of dog skulls along Rassokha river; ●—
Berelekh mammoth “cemetery”.

Nowadays, the Arctic is of intense interest to the world. It is connected with the continental shelf’s energy resources and the actual problems of Earth’s climate, abilities of the Northern Maritime, fishing and tourism.

The question of how man managed to survive and earn his living in the severe climatic conditions of the arctic regions in northeast Asia (later on moved to America) in the Late Paleolithic (30 ka) is very interesting. Another intriguing question is how the domestication of the wolf in the given areas came about. It is a problematical interdisciplinary subject, directly connected with the history of mankind and the beginning of human survival in the Arctic.

About 30 thousand years ago, hunting tribes reached arctic latitudes in Siberia, northeast Asia. This is evidenced by a Paleolithic site found at the mouth of the Yana river (at 30 ka) falling into the Laptev Sea . According to Schirrmeisner et al. [2] , at 48 – 33.5 ka the climate in the Lena river delta was close to that existing now.

Primitive man hunted for mammoth, bison, wooly rhinoceros, musk-ox, wild horse and other animals. He could see that along with him wolves preyed on these large animals too, migrating toward northeast Asia. These two hunters, man and wolf, constantly ran into each other, particularly beside the bodies of dead mammoths.

Scene of prehistorical people mammoth hunting by driving them with dogs (artist E. Y. Nesterova).
Scene of prehistorical people mammoth hunting by driving them with dogs (artist E. Y. Nesterova).

Ancient hunters could see that the wolf is an intelligent, cautious and observant animal; it has excellent hearing and sight, and a fantastic sense of smell. A wolf can lie in ambush and wait for a convenient moment to attack prey. It can run fast (up to 65 km/h), is strong, and knows well that hunting in packs for large animals yields better results.

Of all the animals, the dog is man’s best friend and helper. However, the questions concerned with the origin of the domestic dog are debatable and as yet poorly studied. No wonder they are ignored by many authors  .

Genetic scientists from the USA, Sweden, and Australia have concluded that the domestic dog first appeared in northeast Asia. This conclusion was based on the fact that the gene composition of dogs from this region is highly variable, which is indicative of their long evolution [3] . The finding of two dog skulls on the Rassokha River, a left tributary of Alazeya falling into the East Siberian Sea, confirm this conclusion . The skulls were removed from the Edoma Formation aged at 25 – 35 ka  .

Source: Natural ResourcesDOI:10.4236/nr.2014.53011

Image Credits: Scientific Research Publishing, Natural Resources , Vol.5 No.3(2014)

 

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