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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021 / Morphological evidence for early dog domestication in the European Pleistocene: New evidence from a randomization approach to group differences

P. Galeta, M. Lázničková-Galetová, M. Sablin and Mietje Germonpré (2021)

Morphological evidence for early dog domestication in the European Pleistocene: New evidence from a randomization approach to group differences

The Anatomical Record, 304:42-62.

The antiquity of the wolf/dog domestication has been recently pushed back in time from the Late Upper Paleolithic (~14,000 years ago) to the Early Upper Paleolithic (EUP; ~36,000 years ago). Some authors questioned this early dog domestication claiming that the putative (EUP) Paleolithic dogs fall within the morphological range of recent wolves. In this study, we reanalyzed a data set of large canid skulls using unbalanced‐ and balanced‐randomized discriminant analyses to assess whether the putative Paleolithic dogs are morphologically unique or whether they represent a subsample of the wolf morpho‐population. We evaluated morphological differences between 96 specimens of the 4 a priori reference groups (8 putative Paleolithic dogs, 41 recent northern dogs, 7 Pleistocene wolves, and 40 recent northern wolves) using discriminant analysis based on 5 ln‐transformed raw and allometrically size‐adjusted cranial measurements. Putative Paleolithic dogs are classified with high accuracies (87.5 and 100.0%, cross‐validated) and randomization experiment suggests that these classification rates cannot be exclusively explained by the small and uneven sample sizes of reference groups. It indicates that putative Upper Paleolithic dogs may represent a discrete canid group with morphological signs of domestication (a relatively shorter skull and wider palate and braincase) that distinguish them from sympatric Pleistocene wolves. The present results add evidence to the view that these specimens could represent incipient Paleolithic dogs that were involved in daily activities of European Upper Paleolithic forager groups.
https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.24500

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